Last year, the University began talking about changing the format of the class schedule from five days to a six-day schedule. Rather than the Monday/Wednesday/Friday 55-minute class cycle that St. John’s has been using, this new idea would establish an 85-minute, two-day standard.
Classes would then meet on Monday/Wednesday, Tuesday/Thursday, and Friday/Saturday. Changing the schedule would serve to alleviate the issue of classroom space. As enrollment at St. John’s continues to grow, more room will be needed to accommodate it.
This idea was met by strong criticism from students as well as professors. Students were unhappy about the prospect of having class on Saturdays, as the idea would make Saturday a regular class day. Professors pointed out that weekend classes would end up being taught by less esteemed professors and that no student would choose to take classes on Saturday. This would leave freshmen, who schedule their classes last, as the group that would be forced to take class on Saturday.
Ultimately, the idea would hurt St. John’s since freshman would be introduced to the school by a semester or even a year of potentially lackluster classes and a short weekend.
However, these complaints did not go unheard. Administrators stated from the start that the idea was merely under consideration and that nothing was set in stone. After a year of further discussion, the University has unveiled a new, slightly redesigned class cycle.
Like the original idea, classes will all become 85 minutes long and be held twice a week. The main difference between the old concept and this one is that regular Saturday classes are no longer on the table. The Saturday classes will remain as they exist now with three-hour sessions that only meet on that day, and the regular class cycle will be limited to weekdays.
The idea for Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday class sets remains from the initial plans. However, instead of having Friday/Saturday 85-minute classes, the redesigned schedule will have 55-minute Friday classes paired with a two-hour counterpart on any other day from Monday to Thursday. Fridays might also feature some sort of classroom/online hybrid.
This version of the new schedule will work much better for students and professors. No one will be forced to attend class on Saturdays, and the University will still be able to conserve some classroom space.
In addition, the 85-minute days would all have their own common hour, allowing students to schedule activity meetings on more than just two days in the week. Students would also be able to participate in more activities if there were four common hours.
Spacing is an obvious problem St. John’s is facing. Leaving the schedule as it is now is not really an option. If the shrinking classroom space is to be alleviated, a revamped schedule is one of the first steps that can be taken. It should not be the only one, however.
Campus construction should not be limited to just housing projects. The new Student Center will feature a few floors of classrooms, which help in the classroom crunch, though it may not be enough. The University should look into making more buildings devoted entirely to holding classes.
For those students who fear such a dramatic change to the schedule they base their lives on from September to May, there is no need to worry. The new schedule has plenty of benefits for students to enjoy. The real question is whether the University will gain enough free space from the exchange.