Community hour forgotten
Victoria Bresnahan—News Editor
In 1998, faculty senate enacted the Academic Community Hour resolution.
It stated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 to 2 p.m., classes are not supposed to be held. This, according to a 1998 communication between Professor and faculty senate member Jerry Dunklee and former university president Michael J. Adanti, was requested so students could engage in extracurriculars.
This spring semester, however, courses such as a section of HON 200, ART 215 and 220 are scheduled during this time.
For a course to be approved, schedules are submitted by departments to the deans of the schools said Robert Drobish, scheduling officer in the Registrar’s office.
The deans will then approve the schedule. Some courses, like social work or nursing, require off-campus obligations, and will occur during the hour.
“There are a lot of lab times, and just by virtue of the fact that they are two and half hours there is only so much space,” said Drobish.
Over the years, Drobish said there have been times he would question why a course was scheduled at the time and if it can be changed. There is only so much time in the day, and some courses must be scheduled at the community hour time.
“Obviously, there is an effort, you know, to keep those at a minimum,” he said.
Scott LaFontaine, a senior, and operations manager of SCSU TV, said many of the clubs meet at the community hour time because it’s the primary option for most students.
With many clubs meeting during the hour, however, it makes more difficult for students to be involved in multiple organizations.
“Maybe if there was an additional community hour, clubs could almost alternate certain times so people would be able to join more clubs on campus,” said LaFontaine.
Maria Diamantis, president of faculty senate, said the body originally started thinking about installing a community hour in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Before the current community hour standard, Diamantis said the older version was more limited.
“So that clubs and organizations can have the opportunity to schedule their meetings,” she said. “So that students, for example, who work have an opportunity to go ask advising, make appointments with faculty and et cetera.”
She said it has not been brought to the attention of faculty senate that some departments have deviated from abiding to the community hour policy. Unless a compliant is made, the body does not hear about such issues. She said the body may explore the issues surrounding the community hour.
“It would be more beneficial for us to find out if the department says, ‘we have to run the lab’ and, you know, the lab takes two hours for example,” she said.
Possibly changing the days or times could alleviate some of the issues, she said. It was suggested to her that on Friday one longer community could be established considering most classes do not meet that day.
“That is something again, that we can survey the students,” she said, “survey the departments needs and say, ‘okay, would it be feasible to change it from Monday, Wednesday, Friday to Friday, three hours, [or] to Wednesday, Friday two hours. I don’t know, you know different proposals and gather the data and come up with another decision.”
Art department chairperson Professor Terrence Lavin, said some of their courses are split into three-hour blocks twice a week. In order to conform to general course schedules followed by other departments, an 8 a.m., for example, ends at 10:50 a.m. One block occurs during community hour and concludes at 1:40 p.m.
“There is just no way for us to start any earlier to accommodate for that,” he said.
He said, he has not heard of meetings occurring during the hour in a while. For example, Lavin said currently, department chair meetings are not held during community hour. Rather, they occur at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays—a time when he teaches.
At one point, he said faculty benefited from the hour as well and their meetings could be scheduled during that time. Although, recently he said those meetings take place more so in the evenings.
“I don’t really know what happened,” said Lavin. “I haven’t heard anybody talk about community hour in a long time.”
Other courses and sections are offered to students so they do not have to enroll into courses during that time. However, he said, the art department has never been able to work around the hour for studio classes due to their three-hour course blocks. He said the departments that schedule these courses may do so for a matter of “expedience.”
“I think some departments can’t adjust the schedules just quite to fit that, and it just means that we can’t participate in some of that stuff,” he said. “Sometimes, its not that anyone is trying to make it impossible for students to participate.”
While he does not usually teach on Mondays or Wednesdays, Lavin said students have not spoken to him about conflicts with the hour in a long time.
“It used to be, years ago, that a lot more things happened regularly on campus during community hour,” said Lavin, “but I don’t think I really see too many other things happening.”
Director of the honors college Terese Gemme, said their courses are contingent on faculty members teaching their classes, since the program does not have a set faculty.
This semester, there is one honors course, which focuses on mediation, running during the hour. Considering its focus, Gemme said it needed a larger amount of time.
“This was the only time we could fit it in, other than a night class, which we didn’t want to do,” she said, “because I think that is inconvenient for students.” There were 15 sections available to students for this course. She said they hoped if a student could not take a course due to community hour, they could choose one of the other options.
Usually, the honors program does not schedule a course during the hour. She said no students have spoken to her about time conflicts with the community hour and the course.
“We try not to do it primarily because most honors college students, we really encourage them to be involved in clubs and leadership and so we are very, very conscious of that fact,” she said. “We try to keep that block free for them.”
Gemme said a possible resolution would be designating one block of time one day a week for faculty meetings and student activities.
Photo Credit: August Pelliccio