Upon returning to Pacific from a semester’s study abroad in Japan, I found myself humming the lyrics of “Everything Changes” from the Pokémon soundtrack 2.B.A Master: There isn’t anything in life that ever stays the same. While the song goes on to encourage embracing change and the benefits it brings, it fails to examine the fact that not all modifications are necessary or constructive.
Winter III and what it has become are prime examples of such. With the switch to the four-credit system well under way, the accelerated term has not fared well. In a world where you get what you pay for, WIII is now no exception, giving students the option to spend thousands of dollars on travel courses or waste their winter vacation on two-to-three hour courses—homework time included.
While this is all well and good for newer students whose programs make allowances for courses such as these, those who started at Pacific when the three-credit system reigned find very few opportunities to further their specific programs. WIII is free to those who choose to take it, but with options so decayed, it seems this system discriminates against upperclassmen.
Additionally, with the introduction of “Winter Two” courses, the dates associated with classes have become convoluted. Last year, both WIII and WII courses started together and ended at different dates. This year, I found myself with a week to waste in Forest Grove, as I didn’t realize this policy had been flip-flopped; courses starting a week apart and ending at the same time.
On that note, inconsistencies in service seem to surround the term.
Traditionally, the switch between fall and spring meal services occurs mid-way through WIII. If a student is returning from study abroad and lacks fall meal service, they can find themselves with quite the empty stomach or an emptier wallet.
My account was charged more than $200 to cover meals for winter – credit that never reached my BoxerCard. After a phone call to Housing and Residence Life Specialist Jean Flory, this fee was retracted and replaced with Declining Balance. By this point, normal spring meal plan kicked in less than a week later.
Furthermore, many students found their BoxerCard no longer granted access to vital keycard buildings such as residence halls this winter, forcing them to find other means to enter these “secure” buildings. Not only is this a general nuisance, it poses a huge potential safety hazard as Campus Public Safety would be swamped with non-emergency calls.
The period of rollover between semesters is always a challenging one, but these mishaps seriously detract from the charm of the term.
Though not unique to Pacific, the winter option to breeze though core requirements completely irrelevant to chosen majors or minors made the university special. Removing it detracts from the appeal I felt as a potential student considering enrolling.
There has been talk that WIII will be phased out of the four-credit system or turned entirely into a travel term. Whichever of these is the case, or something else entirely, it’s time to figure it out and implement it, Pacific.