Graphic by Autumn Nuzman.
If students want a class on Monday mornings, they had better be prepared to take that class three to five days a week.
The bell schedule proposal for fall 2020 has been finalized, and all morning classes are required to be scheduled either Monday, Wednesday, Friday; Monday through Friday; or Tuesday and Thursday. Afternoon classes are required to be taken either Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday, and all evening classes are required to begin at 6 p.m.
The altered bell schedule is part of Dixie State University’s attempt to meet space utilization standards set by the Utah System of Higher Education. Classrooms and labs need to be used 33.75 and 24.75 hours per week respectively, and, according to this year’s report, as of spring 2019, classrooms and labs are being used 27.1 and 23.2 hours per week respectively.
According to USHE, in order for DSU to make satisfactory progress toward USHE’s standard, the university needs to increase classroom use by 1.25 hours per year through 2025, which is what the university hopes to accomplish by setting new scheduling standards.
“We won’t really know the impact on professors and students until next semester is over,” said Pamela Cantrell, associate provost for academic and budget planning. “Fall 2020 is the trial run for this bell schedule. People have been asking me, ‘Will this be the bell schedule from now on?’ My only answer at this point is, ‘It will be the bell schedule for fall 2020.’”
The change may not become permanent after fall 2020 depending on its impact.
“This is about space utilization, but it’s also about students,” Cantrell said. “Students had to take certain classes across different semesters because of classes that violated the bell schedule.”
The change may benefit working students’ schedules.
“Six p.m. seems a bit late to start evening classes, but I understand that it may work better for students who have non-negotiable day shifts at work,” said Emily Mildenhall, a junior English major from Hurricane. “[But with morning classes], I feel like I had a class that was just Monday and Wednesday for 50 minutes a year ago, and you shouldn’t have to add a Friday time to maintain that, especially if it’s a course that’s loosely structured and varies daily anyway.”
Erin O’Brien, chair of the biological sciences department, said her department doesn’t have poor space utilization. In fact, she said following the new bell schedule would reduce the department’s capacity for classes since there’s not enough space available to run afternoon classes the way the schedule requires.
“I’m a bit frustrated because the majority of courses in our department require exceptions,” O’Brien said. “The administration has done everything in their power to make the exception process as easy as they can, but it is more work at a very busy time. I understand that we are supposed to be an exception and that most program chairs will not have so much work to do.”
Professors and departments can request scheduling exemptions that will be reviewed by a scheduling and space utilization task force, according to the proposal. The task force is meant to examine the impact of and collect data on exemptions so adjustments and improvements can be made in the future.
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