Students don’t like Friday classes, much to colleges’ chagrin

U.S. colleges hope to schedule more Friday classes to create more classroom space.

Jens Krogstad

On most Thursday nights, the Dinkytowner Cafe buzzes with conversation and live music, even though it is a weeknight.

Though University classes are offered on Fridays, many students are class-free that day, allowing them to party as if it were the weekend.

Verity Baker, a cultural studies and comparative literature senior, sat with friends listening to jazz at the Dinkytowner last Thursday night. She said she has never had classes Fridays and would like to keep it that way.

“In college, you’re supposed to have more freedom and choose your own schedules,” she said. “I don’t need ‘the man’ telling me what to do – we’re adults.”

Colleges across the country haven taken notice, however, and hope to take back Fridays.

“It is clearly a trend that many schools are doing this or thinking about it,” said Clara Lovett, president and chief executive officer of the American Association for Higher Education.

She said having more Friday classes creates more classroom space by spreading sessions over five days instead of four.

Using current facilities as efficiently as possible is usually a response to state legislators who expect colleges to maximize their current space before granting more money, she said.

Safety might also motivate some schools.

“It reduces the number of opportunity of students getting drunk and getting in trouble,” Lovett said.

Minnesota legislators are not currently talking about the issue, University lobbyist Donna Peterson said.

Steve Fitzgerald, director of University Classroom Management, is in charge of scheduling classes and said his job is made more difficult because professors ask for most classes during peak hours – 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

“The problem is, we don’t have a lot of extra room to have extra classes during the sweet spot of the day,” he said.

Fitzgerald said the time crunch worsened when the University switched from quarters to semesters in fall 1999. About 40 percent more sections are taught with the same number of classrooms as a result of the change.

University policy does not allow departments to schedule more than 60 percent of their classes during peak hours but the institution does not have a policy that encourages scheduling Friday classes.

Some students said Fridays are when they catch up on classes for the week and do homework. Others said they need Friday so they can work to pay tuition.

“Friday afternoon (classes) would just be bad,” English and political science senior Dani Brandes said. “A lot of us are working more than 15 hours a week and on weekends.”

Geology graduate student Sam Matson said he still learns on Fridays even if he is not taking classes.

“Friday is when I digest what I learned that week,” he said.

Some students, though, said they would take classes whenever they were offered.

“If they do it, it’s fine because I’m here for an education,”

geology graduate student Mustafa Aydin said. “This should be your priority.”