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Opinion

Five minutes is not long enough

Some professors are accommodating, allowing students to leave class early or begin a little later. But, as English faculty member Andrea MacPherson confirmed, it’s problematic, and students are having trouble focusing as the clock approaches that tiny window.

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By Jessica Wind (Contributor) – Email

Print Edition: September 26, 2012

It was months ago when I first sat down to hash out the new fall schedule. At first, it seemed like the usual dance: take this class, squeeze in that one. But soon something very concerning began to emerge.

Wading through the trenches of upper level waitlists is already daunting; add to that a five minute break between classes and the result is stress – lots of it. A five minute break is not new to the timetable, but this year it is affecting more than the brave students who try and fit as much education into the day as possible.

Consider, for a moment, what you accomplish during your cushy 10 minute trek between classes. Probably a bathroom break, a brief hello to a familiar face, and likely a pit stop at Tim Hortons. When asked if they noticed the squished schedule this year in the traffic they serve, the response was less than positive. With a scoff I was informed by the Tims cashier that there is more pressure for students to make it to class on time, and they notice it in their numbers.

Some professors are accommodating, allowing students to leave class early or begin a little later. But, as English faculty member Andrea MacPherson confirmed, it’s problematic, and students are having trouble focusing as the clock approaches that tiny window.

It isn’t so much of a problem for some lucky students that have their back-to-back classes in the same room, but what about, for example, the unfortunate group that can be seen making their way across the green at about 3:10 p.m. from the top floor of A building over to C building? Never mind a bathroom break or an afternoon snack; they are just shy of running to make it to their next class on time.

It is not bad luck or bad planning that has these students running; for the most part, they are dashing to highly-sought-after courses that make or break one’s ability to graduate on time. So these students—and there are many of us—are staring at the clock, willing our profs to wrap up lecture, and ultimately compromising our full opportunity for success in these coveted courses.

It is far too easy to miss that last minute announcement at the end of a lecture when you are staring daggers at the minute hand of the clock above your professor’s head. Then you make it to your next class after bowling over three people on the way and rudely letting the door close on everyone behind you in order to save valuable seconds.

You get to class and sit down, out of breath, only to realize that the emptiness of your water bottle is directly related to the fullness of your bladder, but the professor has already closed the door and begun lecture.

So, then you wait. You fidget, you wiggle, you change position 16 times, and again, you’re staring at the clock instead of paying attention, waiting for break.

Sure you could just get up and go, you’re an adult after all, but then you’re that person that everyone watches as you leave, and everyone watches as you come back; you are a disruption. Had you had an extra few minutes before the start of class, none of this would have been a problem, but of course, you didn’t.

So, why are these classes so squished together? Does it come back to the overcapacity conversation; an attempt to save time and fit in more courses? Whatever the reason, it is ultimately the students that lose in the end. But until these coveted courses overlap entirely, we will keep running across the green.

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