Photography Editor & Herald Staff
As students approach fall 2019 registration time, panic begins to set in — concerns arise about what classes to take next semester, fulfilling majors and minors, and whether or not students will get into the classes they want or need.
With this sense of uncertainty comes the newfound uncertainty of the new academic day schedule that will be implemented starting next semester. To answer the many questions surrounding scheduling in the fall, the Herald spoke with Professor Christine de Denus, chair of the Chemistry Department and Committee on Academic Affairs.
To start off, Professor de Denus explained the specific changes to the academic day that students will see next semester. Some of the main goals of the changes that she discussed are to give students “180 minutes of instruction time” for each class per week, as well as to “minimize overlap of classes and create a better mechanism” for registration, which would ultimately address the issues with scheduling that have come about.
The primary changes to facilitate this are: 60- and 90-minute classes to replace 55- and 85-minute periods; 15 minutes in between classes; an 8:30 a.m. start to the academic day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to replace the previous 8 a.m. beginning; and optional evening classes on Mondays and Wednesdays. Professor de Denus pointed out that with these changes, there is still enough space for students to get their desired classes when registering.
Some students have been concerned about possible conflicts with evening classes, whether that be work, athletics, or other commitments. Professor de Denus affirmed that “there is a choice to take evening classes,” with “nothing detrimental” being offered at those times. She went on to say that these classes will be ones with multiple sections, offered at different times, and that it simply comes down to what works for those students. She said she is hoping these optional times will fix current scheduling conflicts that these students may currently face by creating more options.
Another conflict to be fixed is one prevalent among first-years; with the required first-year seminar (FSEM) in their first semester, these students are oftentimes unable to take 100-level classes that are taught at the same time. The new schedule would create designated FSEM slots and more options for first-years to take introductory classes.
Discussion about altering the academic schedule has been prevalent for years, Professor de Denus told the Herald. Previous attempts, however, ultimately failed until efforts from 2017 resulted in a vote in favor of the above changes. “Flaws in the current system were realized [in 2017],” de Denus said. “Demographics have changed.” Professor de Denus hopes to accommodate for those changing demographics with the implementation of the new schedule. She discussed the importance of ensuring that students and faculty do not feel “dragged through the mud” by “back-to-back-to-back” sessions and can instead be more productive by having their classes more spread out throughout the day and the week.
The process of figuring out the changes has been one of active participation by both faculty and students. Professor de Denus said there were ongoing “surveys with the campus community, emails, forums,” and other feedback from individual students and student governments regarding what would be most beneficial in altering the schedule. The new academic day schedule will be implemented in fall 2019. Professor de Denus told the Herald that she is hoping for a “culture-shift,” in which students find it “easier to register” and get “more balance” in their days.