By Ryan Johnson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, December 2, 2005
Last night, a normally quiet Gentle Ben's Brewery boasted a line extending well beyond its doors down East University Boulevard. Scantily clad females defied the weather outside and greased up males lined up to buy them shots of Jaeger. By 11:30 p.m., the line stretched to Kababeque and even to Pita Pit.
Sororities had date dashes, fraternities hosted late nights and beer pong tables everywhere sported pyramids of Keystone.
Wasn't it supposed to be a school night? Not so much. Haven't you heard? Thursday is the new Friday.
As a recent New York Times piece pointed out, the day is nearly disappearing from the academic calendar. It's common for schools to have half or less than half of the normal number of classes on Friday.
One look at the course schedule suggests that the UA is no exception. Professors see it as their right, and students will pull amazing scheduling maneuvers to make sure it is theirs, too. Some departments even use it as a recruitment tool. Business majors never have a required class on Friday.
Courses with Monday and Wednesday class and several options for discussion section usually have students fighting each other for any sections not on Friday.
Other students just don't go to the classes they do have. Despite the mass of students who would say otherwise, this should change.
Any number of reasons can be used to argue for a recapture of Friday. For one, aren't two nights of partying enough? There's so much partying Thursday that by Saturday everyone is done. As one bartender at O'Malleys put it, "Thursday night is the new Friday night, but that means Saturday night is the new Sunday night."
Not having classes Fridays is also horribly inefficient. Empty classrooms Friday just means there need to be more classes the other days. Translation: a bigger strain on classrooms. Just like a freeway is judged by how well it handles rush hour, the UA's ability to fit classes in classrooms is judged by how it handles peak demand.
And it isn't just classes being compressed into four days. Classes are also compressed toward the middle of the day. As the Times article points out, the trend has been for fewer 8 a.m. classes, which means more classes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
With all of the buildings being put up around campus, one has to ask how many wouldn't be necessary if instead we used the full capacity of the ones we have. How much lower would utility costs alone be?
Enlightened detractors observe that in many respects, the modern student needs the day off. Now students have part or full time jobs, internships and extracurricular activities. Aren't these more important?
The answer lies in calling out a more systemic problem: The increasing trend that success in college is less based on how well a student does in school and more on how well he or she does outside of school. The Times piece points out several students with solid grade point averages despite little effort. This grade inflation and expectation deflation is unfortunate. But the UA shouldn't feed into it; it should face it head on.
The UA should take comfort in knowing that even the best universities in the country, such as the University of California, Berkeley, face the same problem of 20 percent of the week disappearing. But that is no excuse. In the work world every three-day weekend is celebrated. Students shouldn't get one every week for four years.
What, then, is the UA to do? Schedule more Friday classes, obviously. Actually, this is a department-level decision. Departments shouldn't be afraid to put their required courses on Friday. Departments with excessive demand can even place required courses at, say, 8 a.m. Friday to chase some of the lazier students to other majors.
So as you get ready for class today, congratulate yourself on being one of the few who puts in the extra effort and schedules classes for Friday. You even came today. But look at the empty classrooms next door and the lack of people on the UA Mall. It's day one of a three-day weekend.
Ryan Johnson is a senior majoring in economics and international studies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.