Loras class schedule change hinders meals

Due to a new class schedule adopted by Loras administration, first-years and sophomores are finding it difficult to eat the lunches they’ve purchased with their meal plans, leaving them hungry or scrambling for time and money. 

The Cafe’s full service is in operation from 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., and this is an issue for those students.

Previously, there was a slot in the class schedule between 12:20-1 p.m. where students were not in class and had the opportunity to grab a bite. This year, however, brought changes to the schedule, and that half-hour suffered because of it. According to Cheryl Jacobsen, provost and academic dean, two key elements of the academic schedule made the change necessary.

“The old schedule had fewer class teaching times,” she said. “And we were discovering that courses always bunch. The primary time for students to take classes, in their minds, is between 10 and 2. It’s not a very big window, and we don’t have enough classes to offer them all in that time window, nor should we.”

The other issue was Common Time, held last year on Wednesday but moved to Monday this year. Jacobsen said moved Common Time to Monday allowed them to utilize more of that precious time of the day.

“We had to ask whether Common Time was giving us everything we hoped it would when we started it five years ago,” Jacobsen said. “There had been a few (Common Time events) that took the whole block. But, for the most part we had, in some instances, 45 minutes or a whole hour going unused for Common Time. Given the need for more teaching times, that wasn’t working. Those were the two things that drove the calendar to the schedule change.”

So, in order to make space for the required academic classes, Loras moved Common Time to Monday and added a 12:30 p.m. class period, eliminating the customary break.

The committee deliberated on the new schedule’s format, keeping in mind many student issues, but Art Sunleaf, dean of students, said the college schedule varies greatly from what students are used to in high school.

 

“It’s not necessarily the college’s problem, or campus dining’s problem, it’s an issue about how folks lay out their days,” he said. “Particularly for first-year students, life management remains the challenge. Coming from a K-12 school, everything is structured. Now they choose the times for things. That can be difficult, no doubt about it.

The main issue that stands is the meal block plans. Incoming first-year students and those in traditional housing have a choice between the 125 and 180 block meal plans, which is also a new plan. In the past, those same students had one choice for a meal plan, a 200 plan. Regardless of the number, DuHawk dollars used in the Pub and DuHawk market remain the same.

Due to the meal plans emphasizing eating in the Café, students have trouble finding the time to eat. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, said the new schedule was difficult to maneuver.

“The first few weeks, I either didn’t eat, or I would take something home from the café the night before so that I would have something to eat. It usually wasn’t enough.”

Daniel Thole, the student body president, agreed with the students voicing their opinions, but also understood Loras’ position.

“I feel that there should be at least a 20-25 minute block in scheduling for students to eat lunch.  I know this is very tough for the college to work out because they are probably sacrificing other benefits for the students if they focus on this one.  There is never a perfect solution to anything, but I feel meals are very important.”

Loras is aware of the issue, and Sunleaf suggested students explore a few solutions already available, including the boxed lunches in the café, which can either be ordered ahead of time, and do not count against Duhawk dollars. Or, utilizing the deli in the Café, which is open more often than the set hours for the full-service Cafe.

For more information on how to supplement lunches to ensure both meal plans are fulfilled and bellies are full, contact Susi DuBois.

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