On The Daily: Michigan time in its final hours

Sunday, April 15, 2018 - 1:31pm

Time is almost out to save “Michigan time,” the tradition of starting classes ten minutes after the scheduled hour at the University of Michigan.

Time is almost out to save “Michigan time,” the tradition of starting classes ten minutes after the scheduled hour at the University of Michigan. Buy this photo
File Photo/Daily

Time is almost out to save “Michigan time,” the tradition of starting classes ten minutes after the scheduled hour at the University of Michigan. However, state Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, among other concerned alumni and students, are fighting to preserve this custom.

Students and alumni have spoken out against the University’s decision in February to end Michigan time. U-M students started a Facebook event — “Boycott the End of Michigan Time” — with more than 1,200 people interested in and 300 going to a boycott of the first day of spring term classes May 1. Representatives of the University’s Central Student Government also raised questions about the decision to Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones at a meeting shortly after the announcement was made.

Rabhi, a University alum, has taken the issue of Michigan time to the Michigan House of Representatives. Rabhi proposed an amendment to the state higher education budget during a Thursday meeting for the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education. Though Rabhi’s amendment was not adopted, he maintains his commitment to helping students at his alma mater.

“I am committed to doing all I can to help students at our universities have the support and tools they need to be successful,” Rabhi said in a statement to MLive. “Michigan time has been a treasured tradition at the University for more than 80 years, providing students and faculty the flexibility they need to navigate campus and arrive at class with enough time. This tradition is one of many that gives the University of Michigan its unique character, and I would be sad to see it abandoned.”

Michigan time is currently scheduled to end May 1, after which classes will start at the hour and instead end 10 minutes early. University officials cited a need for consistency among campuses and schools as a reason for the change.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald explained in February the University’s decision was motivated by requests for a more uniform schedule to facilitate collaboration among schools on campus that currently use Michigan time and those that do not, such as the School of Nursing.

“I’d say one of the hallmarks of our campus is cross-University collaboration,” Fitzgerald said. “From school and colleges and departments and different units who are constantly cross-pollinating all of our efforts, and this really facilitates that … We’re just eliminating one of those stumbling blocks.”

Instead of starting early, classes after May 1 will now end 10 minutes before the scheduled hour to allow students to continue scheduling classes back-to-back with adequate travel time.

LSA sophomore Lexi Michaels predicts ending Michigan time will cause confusion for professors instead of making scheduling easier.

“I really like Michigan time. I think it makes so much sense, especially when you have back-to-back classes,” Michaels said. “It gets your day rolling. I think that (this new system) is just a cause for disaster. I think that professors are way more aware of starting 10 minutes late because they haven’t started yet, but if they have to end 10 minutes early, they’re not going to know to stop.”

Despite the protests of current students and alumni like Rabhi, University Provost Martin Philbert claims to have received positive feedback about the change.

“Especially through Vice President Royster’s office, we have worked with many student organizations,” Philbert said. “In my experience, there’s been an enormous sigh of relief that we’re all going to be operating on the same expectations of starting and finishing.”