Butler community’s response to new class grid

Reactions differ across departments. Graphic by Maggie Baranick.

MAXWELL COLLINS | STAFF REPORTER | mcollins1@butler.edu 

Butler rebranded class schedules to function in 90-minute blocks — 75-minute class periods followed by 15-minute breaks. While there are some classes that meet for varied lengths of time, such as 50 minutes, they are all scheduled to accommodate for at least 15 minutes between classes. The change came due to administration noticing students having trouble getting to class on time when they need to walk across campus. 

After adopting South Campus and relocating the College of Education to it in August 2018, professors saw an influx of students and faculty who had issues with or were unable to get from South Campus to main campus in the 10 minutes previously allotted between scheduled classes. 

One thing that may have gone into consideration when developing Butler’s campus was how far people will comfortably walk. A “walkable campus” is a sought-after buzzword for high school seniors, even more so for students looking at small universities like Butler. Large sidewalks, bicycle lanes, limited parking — in much of the campus’s development, walkability was kept in mind. 

History professor Tom Paradis has been teaching at Butler since 2015. Paradis teaches an urban design class which gives him a unique perspective on how time between classes may be determined. 

“On average, humans can walk about a quarter mile in five minutes, and people generally don’t prefer to walk more than five minutes or so,” Paradis said. “That has to be taken into account when urban planning. If you map a quarter mile radius from the center, that half mile diameter is basically how far humans are willing to walk.” 

With the addition of South Campus, which is just over half a mile from Star Fountain, some classes are just outside of a comfortable walking distance. The Butler community was ready for the time change.

Butler administration has been adjusting the new grid in the background with the help of the Faculty Senate, where each college is represented by elected faculty members. 

Jon Sorenson is the Faculty Senate chair and a professor of computer science and software engineering. Sorenson has been chair since fall 2020 and said when the Office of the Provost brought up the grid change, he and other faculty members were invited to comment on the process. 

“A number of faculty were given the chance to comment on early versions of the grid and tried to point out flaws or problems that others might not have seen,” Sorenson said. 

How students and faculty have reacted to the grid change is heavily dependent on what department they are a part of. Sorenson recognizes that his department may not be the target audience for the change. 

“In computer science we use labs, but they can be scheduled for an hour,” Sorenson said. “It’s a very different sort of thing.” 

Xianming Han, professor of physics and astronomy, has worked at Butler since 1991. In previous semesters, Han explained that he would schedule labs from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., but with the new schedule he must schedule the labs from 8 to 11 a.m.. 

“[It’s a] new adjustment after 30-plus years, and I’m sure students who stay up late may be having a very hard time — a worse time than me getting up!” Han said. “For me it is inefficient … we had to make major changes for the whole department.” 

Zack Seiler is a fifth-year P3 professional pharmacy major and does not feel that the new class grid is beneficial for him. 

“I understand [the change] was meant to help with moving [from] class to class, but it doesn’t help often for majors that are in the same building all day,” Seiler said. “It just leads to expanded schedules, two or three hours longer than intended to be.” 

Seiler explained how the new grid has been especially detrimental to the pharmacy department as a whole. According to Seiler, in the past, pharmacy students would largely either get a 10-minute break with back-to-back classes or one- to two-hour breaks. Now, some find that breaks are inconveniently long or awkwardly too short to accomplish anything. 

“With the new sized breaks, I can’t even walk home to get food,” Seiler said. 

On the other hand, sophomore vocal performance major Ash Gordon finds that the extra time between classes can be valuable for music students. 

“It’s a pretty positive thing from what I’ve seen so far,” Gordon said. “A couple of minutes of ‘brain break’ or socialization between classes is really helpful with a heavy schedule.” 

 Sorenson explained that the change is not a big deal for him, but can see how it is impacting students. 

“I prefer my courses to be more or less back to back, but the difference between 10 minutes and 15 minutes is not that big for me [when] I am only teaching four classes,” Sorenson said. “Whereas a student might be taking six classes, your students will feel that difference of five minutes.” 

In Paradis’ classes, he has yet to see any issues with the new grid. 

“I think [the grid change] is a very good thing, and it’s clearly affecting my students positively,” Paradis said. “There are less students coming in late and better attendance.” 

The new class grid does have its benefits for professors. Paradis explained that he often has to go to South Campus, and found he also could use the extra time between classes. 

“I was helping someone teach a class, and I had to walk down [to South Campus] and back,” Paradis said. “[The extra five minutes] is helpful for [professors] too. I can come back to the office, gather my thoughts and go off to the next class.” 

With a growing student population, Butler must expand its campus and along with that comes increased passing times. Regardless of faculty and student opinion, campus will soon understand the 15-minute break as normal.


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