Common hour causes major concerns

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Kristina Wyman's picture
Caroline Critelli

On January 24, the weekly Student Government Association senate meeting was held. With all of the members present and the normally empty guest seats filled the first and major topic of the night began. This topic, which was presented by Dean Jennifer Morrison, who was accompanied by Dr. Catherine Woodbrooks, was that of the new integrated first-year experience labeled COMPASS.

COMPASS is a program that the administration is hoping to begin in the fall semester of 2016. As it stands right now, the plan of COMPASS is to have students of the class of 2020, in a similar way to Tagaste, take a seminar course along with core or major classes. The overall point of the program is to help first years make an easy transition into college and help with things such as time management and study skills.

However, the plan isn’t just going to affect first years. Another part of COMPASS is a campus wide common hour that will take place on Tuesdays and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. The reason for this common hour, which is a feature found at other college campuses, is to allow a definedhour in the day for students to, amongst other things, grab lunch, meet with professors and participate in club meetings. COMPASS will also only take place in Fall semesters.

There have been very strong opinions about the common hour since it has been brought to student’s attention. As great as the intentions behind the common hour are, there are several issue that students hope will be recognized.

In a Declaration of Opposition that was passed by SGA senate members on January 31, senators reasoned that taking out 11:30 a.m. classes and disbursing them to other time slots will make student scheduling more difficult. It is a concern that this class time would create problems for student athletes, students who have a double major, student workers and commuters.

On top of this, having everyone free from 11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. means that dining halls will be even more packed and crazy than they already are. But the COMPASS program is not only raising concerns for what it contains, but also for how the administration went about creating it.

“I think one of the biggest issues that myself and many students have with the common hour is the way it was forced into school policy without much attention payed to the students’ opinion,” stated SGA Senator Ian Burns.

The most interesting aspect of the January 24 meeting was that not only were senators present, but a group of interested students were there as well. Wanting to hear more about a program that will change the way there day runs, non SGA members watched Morrison’s presentation and shared similar concerns as the actual members. With all of the problems, the one thing that everyone seems to be most concerned with is being heard by administration.

“While I was able to share my thoughts, along with many other students, it did not feel like our voices were being heard in any way,” said sophomore Sarah Clancy, who majors in human services and rehabilitation studies.

There are many parts to COMPASS that can be very beneficial, but the parts that are raising concern do deserve to be looked over and, hopefully, reworked.

“This is a program that I hope will benefit all students, and I hope that I can work with SGA and students to make this program a success,” said Morrison.

The best thing for all students to do, not just SGA members, is to go to SGA senate meetings. While SGA does a fantastic job with making sure that everyone’s voice is heard, it does make a huge difference in showing which topics need more focus is for others to go out and participate in the meetings that are held every Sunday. This was the first meeting in a long time that had an assembly of non-SGA representative students present, but it is important to note that all students are always welcome to attend meetings and voice any feedback they have.

“Change is not easy, especially to a core schedule, but it is important to remember if COMPASS or the Common Hour poses difficulties and challenges when implemented, administration will act to make it more enjoyable for students,” said Student Government President Patrick Giroux.

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