University Provost Martha Pollack said Tuesday she was supportive of a faculty recommendation that more classes be held on Friday to address excess student drinking.
The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs suggested the proposal Monday during their weekly meeting, which Pollack attended.
“I am very concerned — I think as is (University President Mark Schlissel), and Vice President (for Student Life E. Royster) Harper — about the issue of drinking on campus,” Pollack said in an interview with The Michigan Daily. “And we do know that one of the issues is that now the weekend often spans three days and that there is a problem with Thursday evening drinking and there is research that shows that Friday classes cut down on Thursday-evening drinking. So, because I actually care quite deeply about the safety and well-being of our students, I am completely open to that idea.”
Currently, the University’s schools and colleges are strongly encouraged to have 15 percent of their classes take place on Friday, based on a 2012 plan that restructured how the University scheduled rooms to better make use classroom space. The plan included adding classes on Friday, as well as more classes during non-peak times — 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Currently, the Fall 2015 undergraduate LSA course guide lists 809 courses that have at least one of their class days on Friday.
How a change like this might actually be implemented varies, Pollack said.
“When we implemented the (2012 plan), it was a policy that came from the provost’s office,” she said. “It wasn’t an absolute demand — you must do it — but we said to the deans, ‘These are targets and every year, when you come in for your budget meeting, we’re gonna look to see how you’re doing on your targets. So that would be one approach. If it came out of SACUA, it could be the faculty themselves saying, we want to have this. There are just different ways it could happen.”
In terms of other ways academic policy could impact excess student drinking, Pollack noted that faculty members have also proposed the idea of discussing the issue in the classroom. The University recently released several policy efforts to address alcohol abuse.
At Monday’s SACUA meeting, several professors suggested ways to approach the issue in an academic setting, such as telling students about alcohol-free events on campus.
“That’s the place where what goes on in the classroom has to come from the faculty,” Pollack said. “They’re the ones who have the expertise and knowledge and know what’s appropriate and not appropriate. I would not require faculty members to address it in the classroom, but I would be supportive of it and provide information.”