Cabrini University is introducing a new campus-wide common hour on Wednesdays from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., as a way for students to become more active on campus, participate in clubs and strengthen the community. The new common hour will be a time where clubs can have meetings, events, and activities without class conflicts with the purpose of bringing the campus community together.
According to Dr. Chioma Ugochukwu, the provost and vice president for academic affairs, the idea of a common hour is not a new one when it comes to higher education, as many colleges and universities have common hours and set aside a few hours during the week in which no classes are scheduled. This will, however, be a new change to the Cabrini campus starting in the 2020 spring semester.
“The point is that the common hour will be used to build a sense of community at Cabrini,” Ugochukwu said. “We will dedicate that time for employees and students to essentially ‘smell the roses,’ decompress, meet one another and for a shared purpose connected to Cabrini’s mission and without anyone, particularly our commuter students, feeling left out or being unable to participate due to classes or meetings.”
Ugochukwu added that the vision for the common hour at Cabrini is that it will be a time for everyone to come together. She believes that this could be a time to schedule “friendly competitive field games, such as tug of war games” or as a time for everyone to “engage in a service project, take a walk as a community, or for mindfulness exercises.”
“Other activities include picnics for the whole campus community or an hour where people are given the opportunity to share their talents with everyone else,” she added.
A lot of time and energy went into the thought process for this change. According to Ugochukwu, who brought the issue forward to the President’s Cabinet for student and staff feedback, there was a focus group discussion about the proposal in which those students revealed that they would like the hour to be used for the purpose of club meetings. The time slot from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m on Wednesdays was decided to be “the least disruptive hour.”
“Our school deans shared feedback from their faculty members suggesting that some days would be better options than others to avoid disruptions to classes such as lab courses that require block schedules,” Ugochukwu said. “We also heard that using two hours a week instead of one might be difficult to achieve at this time.”
Chardanay White, a senior double major in political science and history and advocate for the common hour, is a transfer student who had a common hour at her old school.
White believes that the common hour will greatly benefit the Cabrini community because it provides students with time to have clubs since it can be challenging for students to come together to have a club meeting.
White explained that this change will also bring about “a higher club retention rate” and “have higher attendance” since there will be no classes during that hour and that she hopes for more days to be added in future years.
Dr. Raymond Ward, the director of the Wolfington Center, also believes that this change will benefit student involvement on campus by including commuters more.
“A lot of people have talked about the hectic pace of the day and it’s hard to really find the time when anybody can get together a whole group, especially for commuters,” Ward said.
According to White, the only downside to the common hour is the fact that the common hour will be taking place on a Wednesday, which will prevent education majors that attend field from participating in it and the fact that some classes had to be moved if they previously took place during that time.
“Just logistically, it is nice that the university is saying, you know, we need to do things besides classes and make new headspace for that,” Ward said.
“I think it also sends a message thought that extracurriculars, co-curriculars, student clubs, guest speakers [and] all that stuff is a really important part of college life, of a college experience and the university is investing in that deliberately by making space for that in their schedules,” he added.
According to Ward, the change was “drawn with a big eye towards students” and led in the administration by the provost.
“There are definitely benefits for faculty and staff but I think primarily the beneficiaries that we are looking at are the students,” he said.
“I am excited by the possibilities and truly believe that the common hour will be good for all of us at Cabrini,” Ugochukwu said. “It will enhance school spirit, raise morale, encourage mindfulness and healthy living and build community, which is one of Cabrini’s core values.”