All work and no play: On why we need to divide the day

With Wednesday evening classes entering the course schedule this year, the effect that division of the day – not having class slots after 4 p.m. – has on the College experience has become more and more apparent. While setting aside time for extracurriculars remains vital for students with passions beyond the classroom, the scheduling flexibility created by additional time slots merits continuation, provided only multi-section classes occupy those slots.

Ostensibly, division of the day exists so that students rarely need to choose between course offerings and their extracurriculars. Practice and rehearsal times restrict athletes and performers, and it seems unfair to make them decide between class and their activities. Forcing such a blatant choice is to the detriment of students who have committed themselves to athletics or the arts – especially because practice and rehearsal times are not determined by the students themselves but by coaches or directors. Holding introductory courses or major requirement classes during the evening or late afternoon could not only hinder these students’ academic exploration, but also the very completion of their degrees.

Dissolving division of the day would also add an extra burden to student groups by complicating finding common meeting times. The evening class slot pushes those meetings or rehearsals later into the night, which may not only deter interested participants, but also disrupt students’ sleeping habits, exacerbating a culture of sacrificing health for classes and activities. Fostering passions outside coursework, from mastering an instrument to creating social change, is an integral part of the College experience, and division of the day structures specific time for that. Keeping courses limited to daytime can also work to combat the culture of stress, by at least offering students the option of regular free time in their weeks.

That being said, division of the day does limit course offerings. Because the block of class time slots is relatively short, students often must choose between multiple courses offered at the same time. Though that choice may seem less limiting than one between course and club, the College prioritizes academics above all else and academic flexibility is key to that prioritization. More time slots for courses rather than fewer allows students to avoid having to choose between equally intriguing classes at 2:35 p.m., for example, and creates opportunities for different types of learners, including students who may prefer classes later in the day for a variety of reasons. Currently, students who do not participate in athletics or activities involving regular meetings must accommodate others at the cost of their own flexibility. Professors, too, would have this flexibility, allowing them more options as they plan out their weeks. Expanding class hours would be more efficient in that the College would need fewer classrooms, and the financial, environmental, and social costs of providing new academic space would be alleviated.

The College should strive to create well-rounded, passionate students, and limiting freedom to meet, compete and perform by dissolving division of the day works against that aim. However, classes after 4 p.m., provided they are multi-sectional courses, can offer flexibility in scheduling that would benefit the entire College community. If courses that break from division of the day have multiple sections, students with outside commitments would not be forced out by timing alone. With these restrictions in mind, the College should be able to offer students greater flexibility in planning their semesters without compromising their extracurricular interests and endeavors.

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