Between practices, weight training, conditioning and meetings with athletic trainers, Elizabeth Jennings, a forward for Butler University’s women’s basketball team, spends about 40 hours or more per week juggling team responsibilities on top of her classwork.
Because of their hectic schedules, each semester Jennings, a junior, and the rest of the university’s student-athletes get priority scheduling.
Although athletes may be the only group of students that one might guess gets priority when it comes to class scheduling, they are actually one of three sub-categories of students for whom scheduling priority is deemed necessary.
Jennings said she thinks athletes benefit from priority scheduling because student-athletes’ contribution to the university’s athletic programs balances out any “unfair” treatment of non-student athletes.
“I can see how people would disagree, but I don’t think they see the whole gist of what’s going on.”
Athletes are actually the most recent group to receive priority scheduling privileges, which was just enacted by Faculty Senate in 2010 after almost five years of consideration by the athletic committee, said Sondrea Ozolins, registrar.
Prior to this, students in Butler’s honors program and students with disabilities were the only ones given priority in class scheduling.
The reason for priority scheduling is that each of these groups of students has special conditions they have to meet or restrictions they must work around.
“It helps students with a barrier they couldn’t overcome on their own,” Ozolins said.
Honors students have very specific courses they must complete, so making sure they have the opportunity to get enrolled in those courses is important, Ozolins said.
Rachael Essig, a junior biology and pre-med major who is in the honors program, said that her priority for scheduling equates out to approximately 20 additional credit hours to her class standing.
“I don’t deny that it gives me an advantage over non-honors students,” Essig commented.
One of Essig’s honors classes during her freshman year was at 2-4 p.m., which interfered with most science lab times, so having her scheduling priority allowed her to get into a required lab at a less common time.
Students with disabilities often must work around medical appointments or physical obstacles, Ozolins said. Being able to have as flexible of a schedule as possible minimizes any inconveniences they might have to deal with.
Student athletes only have slightly different circumstances in that they only receive priority scheduling during the term in which their sport is in season. Basketball is the only exception because it takes place during both terms.
Each semester, the three priority groups are combined and randomized by class standing and then given scheduling appointments. Senior student athletes, senior honors students, and senior students with disabilities get first dibs on scheduling. After them, all other seniors are worked into the system, then juniors with priority, then all other juniors, and so on.
Scheduling priority for all other students is based on their class standings, determined by the total number of credit hours a student has earned.
The higher a student’s standing, the sooner he or she is allowed to schedule; the sooner he or she is allowed to schedule, to more classes he or she has available to them.
Ozolins expressed that priority shouldn’t be considered an exclusive privilege, but it also can’t be done on a case-by-case basis.
If a general group with appropriate reasoning for receiving priority is presented, they will be considered.