BY ALLYSON HUNTOON ’19
A new set of class meeting times will be implemented for Mount Holyoke courses beginning in fall 2018. The new schedule will include longer lunch periods, classes that run later into the afternoon and designated meeting times for labs and seminars, as well as various other adjustments to the current system.
The decision to overhaul the schedule was part of an interdepartmental effort to foster community and create more effective time periods for faculty and students to meet throughout the day, according to Registrar Elizabeth Pyle. Changes were proposed by the Academic Priorities Committee, a group of faculty members including Dean of Faculty Jon Western and Dean of Students Marcella Runell Hall. A subgroup was commissioned last spring to work on possible modifications to the schedule, and students on the Student Government Association were given the opportunity to share their views last fall.
The schedule will include class meeting times at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:55 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as 8:30 a.m. options for “fourth hours” or third meetings of classes if necessary. Monday and Wednesday evening classes which were previously held at 7 p.m. will be shifted to 7:15 p.m.. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, classes will meet at 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:55 p.m. There will be no afternoon classes which extend past 4:20 p.m. on any day of the week, including labs and seminars. This means that each day there will be a gap in the schedule between 4:20 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. in which no classes will meet. The standard class lengths of either 50 minutes, one hour and 15 minutes or two hours and 50 minutes will not change.
Benefits of these changes to the course schedule include longer lunch periods on every day of the week, as well as more time to travel or speak with professors between many classes, according to Pyle. She expressed the opinion that Tuesday and Thursday lunches in particular were too short, and that this new schedule could help to reduce the time conflicts students experience.
“Mount Holyoke students do such a wide array of things,” she said.
Regarding the 9:30 a.m. meeting time, which will replace 8:35 a.m. classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, Pyle said this “sounds like a much more reasonable start time for some people.” She hopes this will lead to increased popularity of morning classes among faculty and students, as well as a “more diverse array of courses using morning time periods.”
She also thinks the changes could lead to fewer hard choices for students who previously had to decide between many classes that meet at the same peak times, such as 11 a.m.
Some students approve of the new schedule, due to the fact that the staggering of class times will reduce some of the lunchtime rush at the Dining Commons.
“I think it is good to try new ways to make SuperBlanch more accessible and enjoyable for everyone.” said Suz Rose ’18, former co-captain of the soccer team.
At the same time, Rose also expressed concern that the changes will result in conflicts with extracurricular activities. “I am not sure how this will affect student-athletes in the future, but I’m hopeful that the school will take everyone’s concerns and needs into consideration,” she said.
Student organizations may need to shift their schedules due to the changes, but because of the larger gaps in the schedule around midday, Pyle hopes that the extra time can be used “for a range of things besides just getting lunch.”
Pyle said she will urge faculty members to be consistent in releasing students at the scheduled ending times for their classes. Because labs, seminars and classes will be running later into the afternoon, releasing groups behind schedule could be especially difficult for students to accommodate.
Lekha Murthy ’19 is optimistic about the impending changes.
“I think this is a great idea to allow students a little breathing time between classes and relieve the pressure from dining services during the lunch rush,” she said, “I’m looking forward to the new schedule.”