Temple professors cancel, adjust Election Day classes

While colleges did not make it mandatory for faculty to cancel classes, some decided to cancel their classes to give students more time to vote.

Ally Young, a senior nursing major, sits at a table along Polett Walk outside of Charles Library on Nov. 3. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Aron Pilhofer canceled both classes he teaches on Tuesdays so he and his students could vote in person.

“I wanted to ensure that my vote counted as much as possible,” said Pilhofer, a journalism professor. “I obviously didn’t poll the class, but I suspect that many others probably made the same decision for the same reasons.”

Some Temple University faculty canceled virtual meetings today to give students time to vote in person, while others scheduled election-related assignments or posted asynchronous lectures, allowing students to catch up on classwork in their own time. Students feel it’s important for faculty to make classes optional or provide pre-recorded classes to watch after voting. 

Temple remained open for Election Day and faculty who did not hold classes today are responsible for informing students about missed content, wrote Raymond Betzner, a spokesperson for the university in an email to The Temple News on Monday.

Despite this historic turnout for early and mail-in voting, Pilhofer felt it was still important to give students a chance to vote in person, he said. 

“Not everybody did vote early, not everybody did vote absentee,” he added. “So, I still think it’s important.”

More than 155,000 people voted early in Philadelphia as of Oct. 16, the Philadelphia Citizen reported. 

Because Temple remained open for Election Day, policies for holding or cancelling classes varied from school to school. 

The Fox School of Business allowed faculty members to make their own decisions regarding class cancelations because no specific school-wide policy was put in place, wrote Stephen Orbanek, a spokesperson for the school, in an email to The Temple News. 

The College of Public Health did not cancel classes for today but did make every course asynchronous, meaning students could watch lectures and complete assignments during the day at their convenience, wrote Lisa Litzinger-Drayton, a spokesperson for the school, in an email to The Temple News. 

Ally Young, a senior nursing major, had one of her classes held at its regular time today, but the other was changed to an asynchronous format, she said. 

She voted this morning before she had class, but said her professor would have been understanding if someone asked to miss class in order to vote.

Young thinks holding asynchronous classes worked well because if they were cancelled she would have more work later in the week, she said. 

“If we weren’t doing the work today, it would make Thursday a lot heavier,” Young added. “We still have to know the material, so I think it’s a fair way to accommodate us but also make sure we’re learning what we need to.”

Both of Kaitlyn Cummins’ classes were held today, but she voted early, so it didn’t affect her, she said. 

Cummins, a freshman speech pathology major, added that most of her professors seemed to be understanding if people needed to miss class to vote.

“A lot of my professors were saying that, ‘It’s okay if you do miss class, just send me an email saying that you’re missing class because of, you’re going to vote,’ which is respectful,” she said.

Caitlyn Love, a senior public relations major, said only one of her five Tuesday classes was held today and it was optional. For her media classes, she added that having the day off to read and engage with the news is still educational. 

“I feel like it’s relevant for us to have the day to consume the news and try to be like a savvy media consumer all day instead of sitting in class,” Love said. “I have a couple assignments due where they want us to submit a couple news articles we’re reading so it’s nice that they’re still making it current for us.”

Paul Gluck, a media studies and production professor, canceled his History of Electronic Media class, the only one he teaches on Tuesdays. But Gluck still gave his students a writing assignment today, he said. 

Gluck added that he canceled his class so students had the opportunity to go to the polls and vote if they needed to. He didn’t ask students before he canceled because he did not want them to feel uncomfortable asking if they could miss class to vote, he said.

“I also wanted to make sure that if they wanted to participate in a campaign, or working at the polls, or if they had someone in their community or their family who needed help getting to the polls, that they have that much opportunity to do it,” Gluck added. 

Because his class is a history of media course, Gluck felt that if his students were reading and following the news, it would be a learning experience even if he canceled his class, he said. 

“I know that any media that is consumed today is germane to what we’re discussing in class,” he said. “So even though there’s not a class session, I think they’re grand learning opportunities, just in their observations of Election Day.”

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