Out to trim any remaining waste from the University’s budget, administrators may begin scheduling more classes on Fridays in future semesters as a way to justify the costs of maintaining and powering its buildings. Four-day schedules could become a thing of a past, frustrating the students who enjoy them – and offering the others who wake up every Friday for 9 a.m. class some sense of justice. Rather than just rearranging schedules, however, the administration should look to expand course offerings – adding a few more Friday classes in the process – to make a genuinely more effective use of its facilities.
Maintaining financial vigilance may be important, especially with a state audit likely in the next few years. With tight budgets, under utilizing buildings one day out of the week does look suspicious to any critic looking to justify further state appropriation cuts. But simply shifting course schedules to include more Fridays wouldn’t do much. There is little reason to believe the University would save money by offering fewer classes on other days, when the buildings will still be open.
As it stands today, more than a handful of students in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts construct their schedules around a three-day weekend. Those who boast several-year track records of class-free Fridays have done so not solely by chance, but because of conscious efforts to select classes that fit within a narrowed range of acceptable times. To do so is the student’s choice, but for the University to cater to a four-day week suggests students can’t handle their coursework and social commitments without an extra day of recovery.
Instructor preference and student demand typically determine when courses are offered, and Friday classes do present problems. Students are more likely to skip class on Friday, particularly hurting discussion sections where a few missing students make a difference. But these concerns are not sufficient justification to not hold classes. Friday classes may interfere with other obligations – but so do term papers, group projects and classes every other day of the week.
But just as it’s difficult to argue seriously that all weekends should be three days, so is shifting existing classes to Friday little more than a way of making buildings appear better “utilized.” Rather than changing class schedules against the wishes of both students and professors, the University should work to expand course offerings. A class that meets on Thursdays might be preferable to one that meets on Fridays – but having class on Friday is better than being shut out of classes a student wants or needs to take. Nearly a week of registration appointments remains, and pickings in some departments are already slim.
Students will always be disappointed when a seemingly perfect schedule falls through, but too often they can’t find spaces in courses needed for their majors – a more serious problem.
It will take additional department funding to afford the professors and graduate student instructors necessary to add sections and offer new courses, but it’s a worthwhile investment. Rather than simply evening out how the University uses its pricy facilities, additional class offerings would allow students more flexibility in course selection. A few more students might have to skip Thursday, but at least they’d be taking courses they want or need.