Students who registered for classes on their assigned dates may have noticed both the times and days of the week that classes are normally offered have been altered. Students may attribute this to several factors, including the switch to the January term (J-Term), or the fact that 8 a.m. classes were unpopular. However, what students might be unaware of is that the Miami University administration is actively trying to keep them from drinking Thursday nights and sleeping in on other days.
According to university registrar Dave Sauter, an alcohol task force conducted in 2006 determined that, because less than 10 percent of classes were being offered Fridays, student drinking on Thursdays was becoming a problem.
“A driving factor we had when making the requirements was to get more Friday classes to avoid this [alcohol] problem,” Sauter said. “Because we didn’t have many being offered or taken, we had students having four class-days and a three-day weekend.”
The requirements he mentioned involve the stipulations each department is expected to adhere to starting this coming fall. These adjustments include the new rule that there must be as many Friday classes offered as Monday classes. What this means is that MW classes are no longer a viable option to be offered, instead, students will see courses being taught MF, WF or MWF.
Although Sauter said that through the Associated Student Government (ASG) and the Board of Regents, student and faculty were involved in every step of the decision making, students such as senior Taylor Fenech are skeptical about the benefits of the changes.
“I’m about to graduate, so it won’t directly affect me, but for most of my undergrad I only scheduled classes Monday through Thursday,” he said. “I used a lot of the three day weekends to travel to Chicago and New York to make connections and do job interviews. It helped me land an internship and gave me a leg up in this tough job market.”
He’s not the only one with doubts. Junior Nate Williams, a pitcher on Miami’s baseball team, is concerned the change will negatively affect all student athletes.
“Most games are scheduled on weekends, meaning that for away games, Fridays are often used for travel,” Williams said. “I try to avoid having classes then so I don’t have to miss them and fall behind.”
Students are not alone in their worries. cris cheek, creative writing chair in the English department, said he thinks the change will end up harming both teachers and students.
“This will essentially punish the research culture of faculty,” he said. “Conferences where professors both present their work and hear from colleagues normally start on Thursday night, so the options the teachers are being given are to either cancel class or not be on the cutting edge of their discipline. Either way, students then won’t get to see the best of the professor.”
Also, cheek said he has issues with the reasoning behind registrar’s decision.
“Not everyone here drinks on Thursdays, and it’s not fair to label them as such,” cheek said. “I don’t think the university should be punishing all students and putting them in this category. It’s also important to note that if a student really wants to drink, they are going to drink. If they don’t do it Thursday they’ll do it another day, so we’re really just spreading out the drinking days. Or maybe they’ll still do it Thursday and I’ll have hungover or absent students Friday.”
cheek noted that all students would suffer, stating that many students use their Fridays to work, volunteer or go home. None of those would be possible if a student has a full day of instruction scheduled. Sauter, however, said students should accept Friday classes as reality.
“A work week is five days a week,” Sauter said. “I work Fridays. Students should understand that that is what is expected of them in the real world.”
Conversely, cheek said he does not think it should be a reality.
“Students learn just as much outside of the classroom as they do in it,” cheek said. “That’s what great about the world of academia. It’s a protected environment where students have a chance to explore and try things they would not be able to otherwise. Attempting to homogenize the university to fit the mold that certain people in the administration have decided is best, one from 8-5 Mondays through Fridays, is not the way to go.”
Sauter said one of the other requirements of the new system has to do with the reworked time blocks. Starting at 8:30 a.m. each day, there are now only twelve time blocks to choose from, and each department must offer at least one class in each time block. He said he wants this to force more classes out of the middle of the day and into the morning or evening slots, to avoid what he claims are issues with teachers all wanting to teach from ten to two, resulting in scheduling difficulties. He also wants to cap force adds to these ‘prime time’ classes.
“Often times, we were seeing classes at 8 a.m. with low enrollment, which results in them being cancelled,” Sauter said. “If there is a requirement that two classes fulfill, the teacher teaching the later class should not allow so many people to force add their class. Students would then have to sign up for the 8:30 section, creating a more equal distribution.”
This idea bothers students like junior Melissa Burke, who said she chooses classes based more on her interest and hearsay about the professor, rather than on the times classes are offered.
“I don’t understand why I would be forced into a course I don’t want to take just because they want to fill class spots,” Burke said. “What happens if I am not taking the class because it doesn’t interest me as much or the professor isn’t as highly recommended? I have force added several classes before, because I’m not just paying all this money for a degree, I’m here to take classes I want to take.”
Sauter said popular classes like wine tasting should be offered at earlier times so they do not fill up as fast.
“I’ve urged departments to put the classes that tend to be favorites in the early or late time slots, meaning they will hopefully be offered at 8:30 a.m. or 4 p.m.,” he said. “If students really want it, the time won’t affect the enrollment. Students shouldn’t be deterred by getting up for an 8:30 class. It’s what will be expected in the working world, and it’s not that early.”
He may think it’s a practical time to start, but it’s not for students like senior Sonam Tsomo, who said she works morning shifts at the university’s culinary support center from 4 a.m. until 10 a.m.
“I don’t take classes until after noon so I can get a decent amount of sleep in between work and school,” she said. “I think it’s unfair to assume all students are going to work at jobs that start at 8 or 9 a.m. There will be people who work all kinds of hours and it’s close minded of the university to decide we all need to get on their schedule.”
This viewpoint supports cheek’s argument that the university is using assumptions and generalizations to make changes that will create a more standardized university, one that may not be beneficial to the majority of the student body. However, the system is not set in stone. If student outcry is there, administrators will look to rework the requirements.
“This is a new model, and we’re still poking holes in it,” Sauter said. “As issues are raised, we will address them and make the necessary adjustments.”