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ISSUE 116 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/8/2002

Reactions to community time mixed

By Emily Moen
Contributing Writer


Friday, November 8, 2002

Community time is a new arrival on the St. Olaf campus this year. From 11:20 a.m. until 12:35 p.m. each Thursday, there are no classes scheduled. Reactions to this revised schedule have been mixed on the hill.

The concept of community time was created when the administration took note of the fact that faculty did not have a convenient time to schedule meetings. With the advent of community time, faculty members are able to hold their meetings once a month in the afternoon.

In the past, professors who commuted to campus had to change their schedules in order to attend these meetings. Since no classes are scheduled during this time, it is also an ideal time for the entire St. Olaf community to use time on the Thursdays.

"Community time is good,” said President Christopher Thomforde. “I’m for community time. However, it hasn’t worked well yet because there has been confusion about what exactly it entails."

President Thomforde said that on Oct. 29, the president’s cabinet discussed and evaluated community time in its meeting. The members decided to work on clarifying a few points about community time.

The first is to explain exactly what community time is because many students are confused about its function and purpose.

"I don’t even really know what it is," said Bryan Stevenson ’06. "Isn’t it on Thursday? It’s probably a cool concept, but I don’t really understand it. I think that we should better inform people about what it is so that we can better make use of it."

Secondly, the Cabinet wants to prioritize what happens during community time. It believes that the first priority should be the faculty meetings on the first Thursday of each month.

The next priority would go to community celebration. President Thom-forde explained this as "anything to which the whole community has been invited," such as the celebration for Tom Pritchard, the bus driver.

The last priority would be to allow other meetings of faculty, staff, and students.

The third point that the Cabinet decided needs clarifying is that of hourly employees. There has been confusion about how the faculty is paid concerning their attendance at community time celebrations.

President Thomforde’s personal hope for community time is that "it is in fact a time for the community other than organized activities."

"If there’s free time, we’ll find a way to fill it together," said Thomforde. "I think it’s important to have Sabbath times where you can just be and not do something. It is like Sunday–God’s vision of a world-wide community time. That’s what I imagine this as, except for the St. Olaf community. All week, Monday through Sunday, we have scheduled activities. It’s good to have a moment when you aren’t scheduled and you can just be."

Pamela Mannebach, Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life, addressed the issue of community time as a "struggle of when people have time to meet.”

"We wished that faculty, day staff, and students could all come together at the same time," she said. "I’m glad that we tried to remedy this, and I’m glad that we’re evaluating it now to see if this is a product that we wanted."

Many students agree that community time still has room for improvement.

"I don’t have any huge qualms about it, except that I don’t like getting out of class so late on Thursday," said Travis Rother ‘04. "I don’t really feel like we’ve made the best use of it yet–the Tom the Bus Driver Day was a lot of fun, a great event for community time."

Mannebach thinks that it will simply take some time for everyone to adjust.

"When the Pause opened, it took a little time for students to figure out how and when to use the new space–this is much of the same thing," she said. "We just need to figure out how community time fits into all of our lives.”





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