Fall 2018 will mark the end of ‘Harvard time.’ In anticipation of the opening of the Allston campus in 2020, last week the Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted to adopt a new course schedule to account for increased travel times and phase out the traditional seven minute passing period. Although we are sad to see a tradition so fundamentally Harvardian be replaced, we are glad the College is testing out the new schedule before the Allston campus opens. This will leave time for changes and feedback, especially when the schedule is reevaluated in 2019.
Any shift in long-standing University policies will undeniably cause disruptions in the day-to-day schedules of Harvard affiliates, and constant communication from Harvard will be a crucial part of the transition process. Administrators implementing this schedule change must be receptive to the suggestions of students, faculty, and staff to ensure that their needs continue to be accommodated.
For instance, barring those who may not take advantage of a full class period, professors and teaching staff currently accustomed to hour-long classes will need to alter existing lectures and lesson plans to account for 22 minutes more of classes. We urge University administrators to work closely with professors to make sure class times are not arbitrarily increased. Additionally, we hope that administrators effectively coordinate class components such as section and laboratory times under the new schedule.
Furthermore, the current dining hall schedule requires revision. Under the current schedule, dining halls are open between 12 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. for lunch. While this may work with most students’ busy lunchtime schedules within the boundaries of the Cambridge campus, the river commute may make access to food more difficult for students who have classes in Allston. Administrators must work with dining hall staff to ensure that students have reliable access to food under this new schedule, either by extending lunchtime hours or providing meal options on the Allston campus that fall under the undergraduate dining plan.
Two campuses also bring added challenges to accessibility. Classes in Allston will increase travel times for all students, but will impose a greater impact on students in need of accessible accommodation. Students registered with the Accessible Education Office currently depend on accessible van services to get to different parts of campus, and demand will only increase in 2020.
Due to the limited number of accessible vans as well as backlog during peak hours, the service would not be able to transport students between campuses within the appropriate 15 minute time frame. This passing time is insufficient under existing infrastructure, and even if vans are scheduled at the beginning of the year, there is no guarantee that the time frame can be met on a daily basis. Furthermore, advance scheduling unreasonably burdens students with disabilities to anticipate sudden changes in their schedule, and is not appropriate during shopping period. The current fleet of accessible transportation is inadequate for the anticipated increase in traffic between campuses, and Harvard must be prepared before implementation to fully address this issue.
Whether through an increase in the number of accessible vans or the implementation of new campus shuttle lines, Harvard’s shuttle system should be made more efficient to ensure all students get to places on time. Given that many students are dependent on shuttles for transportation, we are surprised that these issues have not been addressed already, and ask that the College provide information about its plans for accessibility for the Allston campus.Harvard has done well to be proactive by testing the new schedule for the fall of 2018, but must be even more diligent in enacting necessary changes during the transition. While are hopeful about the schedule changes, we ask that Harvard administrators continue to solicit input on accessibility, dining services, and other challenges that may be brought upon by the new schedule.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.