Strong response at academic forum

Students bombarded University deans and administrators with questions that challenged their new decision to change the course schedule next fall at an academic forum held yesterday.

University Provost Dr. Julia Upton opened the event with a presentation but the attitude in Marillac Auditorium quickly changed once the students were handed the microphone.

The new schedule will have 80 minute classes on Mondays and Thursdays and Tuesdays and Fridays which will leave Wednesdays and Saturdays open for three hour lectures and labs. Common Hour will be reduced from its current Tuesday and Thursday format to once a week on Wednesdays.

Students lined up to ask questions and get their points across, and from the first to the last speaker there was little support of the new schedule change.

“How do you want us to show up to our internships and tell them ‘well I can only work Wednesdays now because St John’s changed their schedule’?” asked Michael Scott a junior.

Students proposed the idea of having classes on Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday, leaving Fridays for Common Hour and three-hour courses, but Upton quickly refuted that idea.

“There was a concern that the university would become a weekend wasteland, that the students who live close by would go home and the few students who did live here would have nothing to do” she said.

Steven D. Papamarcos, dean of The Peter J. Tobin College of Business assured students that the administration will find a way to make the new adjustments work.

“If there is a class that is closed and there are 20 students who need to take it we will start a new section. But if there were two or three we will fit them into the class and if we can’t fit the number of requisite desks into that classroom, I will ask my faculty to do an independent study with those students,” said Papamarcos.

Students also complained about a lack of communication between the administrators and the student body.

“I agree that communication regarding this could have be a lot better, I can’t tell why it wasn’t better but it could have been better,” said Upton, when answering a student’s question.

Both Upton and Papamarcos called the new schedule an experiment.

“I know it sounds crazy, but it might be great,” said Upton.

Once the forum had ended some deans and administrators, who looked tired, dejected and subdued, stayed and answered questions on a one-on-one basis.

“I wish that someone who actually wanted the schedule change would actually say something,” said Upton. “Change is difficult, and there is so much unknown about this. Nobody wants to hear the other side and imagine it might be better.”

Freshman Alyssa- Rae Hug said “I feel like the deans and provost were kind of closed minded to any suggestions.”

But Hug also felt there could be some good out of this new change.

“I think people are overly critical of change just in general,” said Hug. “It’s really all up in the air, it could turn out to be a great enriching experience for my education, but it could also turn out for me to stay an extra semester because I can’t get the classes I wanted. I think people have to be open minded.”

Upton said that the schedule will be completed by the end of next week and that it will most likely be implemented but she also said “I’m not the President, he could change anything.”

University President Rev. Donald J. Harrington was also present on the panel but left early during the Q&A.

Upton, who dealt with the wrath of the students more than any other panel member understood their emotions.

“This is the only experience of St. John’s that they know and it’s changing, I understand that’s a source of anxiety and frustration,” she said after the forum.