Students and other Oktoberfest fans will have to wait a little later than in years past to break out their lederhosen and tap the first keg. In fact, Fort Hays State University students will be spending the morning of Oktoberfest in school.
Dr. Larry Gould, provost, recently announced the decision to hold classes on Oktoberfest, Sept. 30, 2005, until 12:20 p.m., the end time of the classes which begin at 11:30 a.m. In years past, students had the entire day off from school.
Oktoberfest this year begins officially at 11 a.m., two hours later than previous years, and will end approximately two hours later than in previous years. Gould's announcement cited this change along with a new Faculty Senate resolution on dismissing classes and a University Affairs Committee report as factors in the decision.
Last year, the Senate decided to submit the question of holding classes on Oktoberfest to the committee for analysis and deliberation. The committee conducted a survey on the potential impact on student organizations that participate in Oktoberfest. According to Gould, these actions were consistent with what the faculty and administration requested of the Senate.
"The Faculty Senate was asked by the university to look into this issue. The faculty was concerned about the loss of a day of class time, but at the same time kept in mind the impact of our decision on Oktoberfest," said Dr. Richard Lisichenko, vice president of Faculty Senate and assistant professor of geosciences. "This seemed like the most adequate way to resolve the situation."
Lisichenko said the Senate also received student input from the Student Government Association.
Faculty and students will be expected to conduct and attend classes until 12:20 p.m. as if a full day of classes were to be held. As in the past, all university staff and faculty will be required to work a full day.
The announcement may cause the most problems for student organizations that use booths at Oktoberfest as major fundraisers. Under the new plan, student organizations can make arrangements with instructors to allow five to six students to set up booths and prepare food.
For the FHSU Communications Club, the changes will be difficult to work with as students annually sell bierochs at Oktoberfest. "It's not going to be positive in how it's going to effect us," said Howard Peters, sponsor. "The logistics of needing to have all our beirochs cooked and ready shortly before Oktoberfest begins will be difficult with me, their sponsor, having to teach all morning, and that it takes more than six students helping to get them all cooked," Peters said.
"While our organization is disappointed with the university's decision, we know that if the university will benefit from it, then we'll just make the best of it. I understand why the university wants to make this change, but it will hurt our sales, and this is our largest fundraiser of the year."
Gould said he hopes all parties will use this decision in a constructive and accommodating way to support FHSU's educational obligations.
"This choice should allow the university to meet its educational obligations while having a minimal impact on the way in which faculty, students and staff participate in Oktoberfest activities, celebrate our local culture and continue their role in FHSU's Homecoming celebration," he said in an e-mail announcement of the decision.