This week, the University of Connecticut announced plans to align class times at the Stamford satellite campus with the flagship campus in Storrs. The changes include the addition of Friday classes, which the campus has not traditionally maintained. Given the commuter makeup of the Stamford campus student body, the change is drastic.
UConn must consider the travel costs and lifestyle associated with a commuter campus when implementing such reform. While UConn Stamford benefits from top-tier academics, as does Storrs, the fundamentally different student bodies necessitate different approaches to all aspects of student life, including class scheduling.
According to an article from the Connecticut Post, UConn administration and officials have responded to student petitions and complaints, arguing that the “new schedule would open up new classes to regional campuses, free up classrooms that are in high demand and allow the regional campuses to take on more students and hire new faculty members.”
Though classroom space is vital, forcing commuter students, many of whom work along with their school schedule, to take on an additional day of class fundamentally hinders their ability to attend college. The need to balance work and school is crucial to the lifestyle of many commuters. Without this, education may become an unrealistic cost for students at the Stamford campus.
The article quoted Sally Reis, the UConn Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, who insisted that UConn would first test the program at Stamford, before expanding the system to the whole Stamford student body. While testing the program is the sound and logical way forward, especially in the face of widespread student opposition, this does not negate the probable disruption to student life.
The testing period must be a legitimate proof of concept, and not merely an attempt to save face and appear concerned for commuting students. While UConn has historically prioritized the flagship campus in Storrs, commuter students at the Stamford campus, as well as other satellite locations, deserve the full attention of the administration and officials.
Residential and commuter lifestyles provide for inherently different needs in class scheduling. While unifying the scheduling across the Storrs and Stamford campuses has a pleasant public relations appearance, the ostensible sense of equality obfuscates real damage to the balance many commuter students must maintain. Adding Friday classes will only serve to increase the costs and stress of commuting, while negating many of the benefits of commuting for a college education.