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Many Aggies concerned about Common Hour schedule

By Danielle Manley
On April 1, 2014

Common Hour is a time when students eat lunch, visit with friends, attend lectures and guest speakers.

It’s also an hour out of every week giving professors and students more difficult schedules.

Vice Provost Janis Boettinger and Assistant Provost Andi McCabe spoke to the USU Student Association Executive Council on March 25 about the growing concerns of Common Hour.

“The academic quality is possibly suffering because of that Wednesday 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. block,” Boettinger said.

Boettinger and McCabe presented during public forum for the opportunity to voice the concerns of several students and faculty members across campus. Complaints originally came to the calendar committee, which Boettinger and McCabe both chair.

The main concern is the unusual breakup of Monday and Wednesday classes. Instead of being able to hold classes Monday and Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. like they were prior to 2013, those courses must be held on Monday and Friday at 11:30 a.m.

“Both students and faculty have brought to the council meeting that this is not conducive to learning,” Boettinger said. “It’s almost like have two weekends in a single week.”

Boettinger said the calendar committee understands the importance of a student-led initiative, like Common Hour. She said the group wanted to bring the problem before the USU/SA Executive Council before taking action.

“The calendar committee, it was our last meeting last week,” Boettinger said. “We took a bold step and we actually put in our report that we would recommend the elimination of Common Hour ... but that we would do nothing until we heard from the student association.”

USU/SA President Doug Fiefia said he conducted a survey with USU Provost Noelle Cockett about Common Hour earlier in the year, and approximately 62 percent of participants favored the initiative.

“It’s hard for me to sit and take something away that we did a survey on and the students told us one thing,” Fiefia said. “It’s hard for me to go against what we found.”

Arts and Lectures Director Kaela Baucom plans the Common Hour lectures sponsored by USU/SA and said she realizes the academic conflict, but thinks the idea is beneficial for students.

“It provides a different variety of things for students to do,” Baucom said. “They can schedule meetings during that time, they can come out to these events, they can go get lunch with their friends, they can do their homework. And so I think looking at that, Common Hour is a good thing, it shouldn’t be taken away.”

Fiefia said there are too many conflicting opinions to vote immediately.

Boettinger said it would be unlikely to change anything for the next academic year, but recommended the student association do a more thorough survey in the future.

“I think we should just do it right and work together to get a survey instrument that really assesses the needs,” she said.

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