University of West Florida Makes Friday Classes Mandatory
I have a great deal of respect for the professors that I have met at the University of West Florida (UWF). I enrolled in the Spring term of 2011 after transferring from Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC). I currently attend the College of Business and my major is BSBA Management Information Systems, so my opinions may be skewed toward the business and economic foundations created there. With that said, I invite the opinions of others with regard to the recent changes to the class scheduling made by David Marker, Interim provost of UWF. After a week of rumors, an e-mail was sent to all students explaining the new time blocks for classes to begin this Fall. The Tuesday/Thursday classes will remain 75 minutes long with 15 minutes between time blocks. This has been the norm for at least a few years now. The change comes in the Monday/Wednesday classes. The classes on those days will be 50 minutes long with 10 minutes between time blocks, and the addition of an extra day—Friday. To make up the extra 25 minutes per class you will have to attend class on Friday as well.
According to the e-mail from Marker, here’s why:
We believe this new class schedule will benefit you as follows:
· More convenient scheduling
· More time blocks from which to choose
· More personalized attention, as class sizes remain small
· Easier parking, as courses will be spread throughout the entire week
I have to dispute these reasons from a “student” viewpoint, simply because they don’t add up.
More convenient scheduling
Shortening the time between classes may not prove to be a major factor to everyone, but it certainly makes nothing more convenient. Commuters will have to drive to school three times a week rather than twice. So whatever it was you used to do on Friday, well….Not More Convenient
More time blocks from which to choose
The new schedule does add time blocks to the previous Mon/Wed schedule; however, I actually see fewer time blocks to choose from for most students. I recently interview for two different internships, both were through JasonQuest (a UWF resource for student placement). The positions were part time, but an emphasis was placed on working 32 to 34 hours weekly. I have 3 classes on Mon/Wed and 2 night classes; though it would have been tough, I believed it to be plausible. Not with the new Mon/Wed/Fri schedule. There are also many students who work just so they can go to college, and many of those students who live at home are obligated to work as well. Removing Friday from the list of available days to work will be detrimental to a large number of students. For these students, myself included, you have limited the available classes to those that are offered on the Tue/Thru schedule.
More personalized attention, as class sizes remain small
I have carried on personal conversation in some form or fashion outside of the classroom with more than half of the professors that I have met and I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority when it comes to students that take advantage of the availability of these professors. In the past year I have yet to attend a class that was completely full and by the add/drop date there has always been more than enough personal attention to go around. In fact I have had 2 classes that have had less than 10 students; most of my classes have had less than 30 students after the add/drop date. I greatly appreciate the personal interest that the Professors show their students in and out of the classroom. I cannot begin to imagine that that can be improved on through scheduling. If it’s not broke—don’t fix it.
Easier parking, as courses will be spread throughout the entire week
Is this supposed to be the teaser to make us think things will be better this way? Not enough parking is not enough parking; more days won’t change that. Here’s why. When I get to the University at 9:15 for my 10:00-11:15 class, I park in lot O, commuter parking. My next class starts at 1:00, so I use the labs that are available, study, or just kill time until my next class. Students don’t move their car because class is over; we move when all of our classes are over. Some students leave for lunch, but not many leave between classes. What will happen (that will give the illusion of more parking) is a drop in the number of students willing to take classes on the Mon/Wed/Fri schedule. I don’t believe the parking problem is a factor that will keep students from attending UWF. The problem isn’t parking, it’s about convenient parking; I have always found a parking place.
Then what is the real reason
Money!! I’m a business student it’s always money. UWF is a public University funded by the state and local donations to subsidize its operations. Tax dollars go toward supporting UWF and that’s a good thing; there are a lot of students that would not be able to attend college without it. Better educated members of society increase business growth; more business growth promotes more jobs; more jobs promote a better economy, etc. We all know the advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to tax dollars, “entitlement” has become one of the biggest topics in today’s society and the most controversial. You see a publicly funded university receives funds based on “use” or “need” not according to want. To increase your cut of the pie, you need to show that the need exist for more funds. In this case “use” is measured by the percentage of use of campus facilities. If there are no classes on Friday, we automatically lose 20% of our usage. The present solution seems to be to spread out the classes and students over a 5 day schedule rather than a 4 day schedule. It doesn’t take a business major to see that money is a much more feasible explanation for the changes to the Fall semester. I am angry that the students are being manipulated in this fashion for what I believe is an attempt to receive additional state funding. But it infuriates me to receive an e-mail stating that the purpose is to be “more convenient and conducive to your studies.” This proposal change has come from David Marker, the interim Provost, someone who hasn’t been a part of the University of West Florida long enough to know who the students are and what their needs involve—obviously he know politics.
I am a senior this year; I have 5 more classed before I finish my degree. I will have to take 2 next fall and 2 next spring. I plan on working while I finish my education. I have to, or not finish school. For me, I can’t afford to take a class that requires me to come to the university 3 days a week. Integrating students into the business world is one of the more important jobs of the University. Imptotant enough to devote a department to its end and that should not be interfered with by the policies of UWF used for fund raising. I drive almost 60 miles each day to school and home again, about $10.00 per day at today’s gas prices. That would amount to an additional $160.00 per semester as a direct personal cost to attend the University of West Florida. I would rather pay an extra $160.00 per semester and keep my Fridays open for work.
These are some of my opinion about the coming changes, but I’m on my way out soon. I know this schedule has been used before and failed. I am extending my thoughts to David Marker via e-mail and I recommend that all of you that read this article do the same. If not for your own sake then for the sake of those who will follow us.
I don’t have the numbers necessary to know for sure the underlying reason behind this change, but I can’t believe the reasons are what is stated in the e-mail either. What I do know is this change in the schedule will have an excessive impact on the students. As major stakeholders in the university’s operations, we can have a say. There are a few classes that are difficult to get into such as MAN4720 – Policy Analysis and Formulation. Why not offer a few “Friday Only” classes that are in high demand? I may not know all the answers, but I’m sure this is not one of them.