At Mercer, our classes follow a consistent weekly schedule with which we’re all familiar: On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, our lectures begin at the top of the hour, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays they begin at less obvious but still widely known times such as 9:25, 10:50 and 12:15.
That’s why it perplexed me and many other students when the administration sent a campus-wide email alert Monday evening in response to recent icy weather conditions saying that Tuesday classes beginning “at or after 11 a.m.” would be held as scheduled. The problem with this statement is that classes don’t begin “at” 11 a.m. on Tuesdays. They begin at 10:50.
As silly as it may sound, this minor 10-minute disparity left many students and faculty confused, wondering whether to sleep in through their 10:50 class or brave icy roads and frigid temperatures at the risk of arriving to class to find out it had been canceled anyway.
Fortunately, the confusion was cleared up promptly, and a correction email was sent less than two hours later clarifying that 10:50 classes would still be held as planned the next morning.
No big deal, right? Probably not. Yet part of me can’t help but think the incident reflects how out of touch administrators can sometimes be with the day-to-day schedules of students and professors. Most anyone who has spent any time at all on this campus knows what time classes meet each day of the week, if for no other reason than because of the increased foot traffic across the quad. That expectation especially applies to top administrators, whose job it is not only to manage the university, but to understand how it operates from the bottom up.
Don’t get me wrong. I applaud the administration for employing an effective alert system, and I can imagine how difficult it must be to monitor rapidly changing weather patterns and make judgment calls about closures in the eleventh hour. I also know it’s easy to make mistakes when trying to relay information quickly. But more than 2,000 of us are dependent on that information to be accurate, and the least we can ask for from our administrators is a basic understanding of what times we have regularly scheduled class, or perhaps a little more proofreading before sending out mass emails.