Flames of the Torch

St. John’s students lead hectic lives. Some work part-time, some work full-time, and others have mounting extracurricular activities that keep them busy. It’s understandable, then, that the University would consider options that could afford students even more flexibility with their schedules.

Provost Dr. Julia Upton’s recent suggestion to change the class structure to a six-day schedule is the University’s latest idea to help students arrange their classes around their busy lives.

The proposal would make nearly each class 85 minutes long and extend Saturday as a class day. The 55-minute MWF classes would therefore be abolished.

The University gets a lot of credit for making this interesting idea known to faculty and The Torch as quickly as it did. It’s good that the idea, as of right now, is just a suggestion, because it has some serious flaws.

Most notably, it actually gives students little more flexibility than they already have. Who would want to take all 85-minute classes on only two days? Some students already do this with the current TR class days, but most find it too overwhelming.
Then, there are the Saturday classes. How many students would really like that? Any student unlucky enough to have to take Saturday classes would effectively lose their weekend for the entire semester.

As University Registrar Joseph Capobianco told the Torch in a recent interview, “Most professors were not enthusiastic about Saturday classes.”

This brings up yet another problem: how would the University ensure that full-time, desirable professors would teach classes on Saturdays? Full-time professors with seniority would hardly be forced to teach on a Saturday against their will. This would mean that adjunct professors and disheartened students who were unlucky with their schedules would fill the University on Saturdays.

This is not to say that adjunct professors are bad. But it is safe to say that most students prefer full-time faculty. Unhappy students mixed with professors and classes they didn’t want to take to begin with will result in an odd atmosphere on campus.
The only benefit this schedule change could create is more class space for the growing University. This brings up a much broader question: should the University change its entire schedule structure to accommodate its need for more class space? Or should they instead build more facilities to house classrooms?

St. John’s has been updating its facilities with townhouses, a dorm on Henley Road, and a new Student Center for campus activities. They are all terrific ideas to accommodate the University’s growth, but more classrooms are what’s needed most.

It’s commendable to see the University trying to make things easier for its students’ hectic schedules. But St. John’s should look into more classroom facilities before it completely overhauls its entire class schedule.

It’s a better solution than filling the campus on a Saturday with professors and students who really don’t want to be there.