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Faculty Council Approves Tweaks to New Course Schedule Legislation

University Hall Morning
Tourists gather outside of University Hall at the center of Harvard Yard Wednesday morning. University Hall houses several administrative offices, including those of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard College.

The Faculty Council voted to approve tweaks to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences course schedule — which underwent an overhaul last year — at its biweekly meeting Wednesday, according to council member Kirsten A. Weld.

The changes come as FAS concludes its one-year review of the new schedule, which debuted last fall. FAS Registrar Michael P. Burke presented the proposed changes — which Weld called “little, teeny-weeny, basically textual edits” — to the Council, FAS’s highest governing body.

“These were really very minor amendments that did not change the thrust of any of the already existing policies governing the new schedule,” Weld said.

The Faculty voted to amend its schedule in April 2017 in preparation for the opening of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’s new Allston campus. The schedule went into effect for the first time in August 2018.

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Under the strictly regimented system, FAS standardized class start and end times; extended the standard course time from 60 to 75 minutes; and eliminated “Harvard Time,” a scheduling quirk that allowed students to arrive seven minutes late to every class.

Though the Allston campus is not slated to open until Fall 2020, the schedule changes were adopted earlier to allow for a two-year trial run of the system. The new schedule staggers the two campuses’ standard class times to provide enough time to travel across the Charles River between Cambridge and Allston. For example, while the Cambridge-based class GENED1034: “Texts in Translation” runs from 3 to 4:15 p.m., the Allston-based GENED1058: “Tech Ethics: AI, Biotech, and the Future of Human Nature” is scheduled from 3:45 to 5 p.m. The similar classes adhere to the standard begin-time of their respective location.

Some students criticized the new schedule shortly after it was implemented because of its incompatibility with lunch hours. The full Faculty voted to adjust the system in December 2018 to ensure students had more time to eat lunch.

Weld said that rather than making new, substantive changes to how the schedule operates, Tuesday’s proposal merely updated existing legislation to reflect changes that came about during the rollout of the schedule, when administrators were “working out a couple of bugs.”

“Until something goes live, you can't actually anticipate all of the potential issues that could come up,” she said.

The Council’s vote is purely advisory, and Wednesday’s proposed changes will not take effect unless they are voted on by the full Faculty later this semester.

—Staff writer Molly C. McCafferty can be reached at molly.mccafferty@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter at @mollmccaff.

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