Students who have class during caucuses should speak with instructors


A caucus staffer attempts to organize the Iowa State students waiting to caucus on Feb 1, 2016, in the Pioneer Room at the Memorial Union. From the beginning, the Pioneer Room was struggling. The caucus organizers ran out of registration forms, making it near impossible for students to register for the caucus.

Jake Webster

Iowa State students interested in participating in Iowa’s caucuses who have labs or lectures during the time the caucuses are scheduled should speak with their instructors beforehand to see if they may be excused to participate, according to Jonathan Wickert, senior vice president and provost of Iowa State.

Iowa’s Republican and Democratic caucuses are scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. on Feb. 3.

In response to an email about a student who said they were told they would not get a further exemption from labs for caucus night in addition to previously built-in lab drops in the class, Rob Schweers, the director of communications with the office of the provost sent the Daily a link in an email to an article published in “Inside Iowa State” on Oct. 24, 2019.

“Faculty are in the best position to decide how to teach their classes and support students’ needs,” Wickert said in the story. “Decisions about whether to excuse class for events like the caucus, athletic contests or other events are best handled locally and on a case-by-case basis between faculty and students.”

Schweers also forwarded the Daily an email sent to department chairs on Jan. 6 that linked the story from October, adding it provides “guidance regarding courses scheduled to meet the same evening as the Iowa caucuses.”

Department chairs were asked to “share this start-of-the-semester message about instructor resources with [their] faculty.”

There are 38 course sections that meet Mondays during the time bloc in which the caucuses are scheduled to take place, “and nearly all of the sections are Monday-only offerings,” according to the article.

The spring 2020 semester is already missing one Monday session as classes did not meet on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday.

“Missing another week of a course represents a significant portion of the total time available for learning,” Wickert said in the article. “We need to be careful we’re not shortchanging students on course content or compressing too much material into the remaining weeks of the semester.”