Editorial: Speaking events need to prioritize students
One of the wonderful things about going to a university like Brandeis is being able to hear intellectual leaders, change-makers and industry powerhouses speak about their work. Clubs, organizations, institutes and departments all work to bring important individuals to campus so that members of the Brandeis community can learn directly from their personal experiences and scholarship. Recently, the University has hosted a wide range of influential speakers.
This board commends the University departments, clubs and organizations that have worked to bring these influential speakers to Brandeis, providing students from all across campus with opportunities to learn directly from leaders in their fields.
Yet as important and interesting as these events are, they are often scheduled in ways that make them inaccessible to students. Events are often timed around lunchtime, which is convenient for off-campus guests who attend these lectures and panels for a combination of a light lunch and intellectually stimulating conversation. However, this timing is incredibly inconvenient for Brandeis students.
Brandeis classes, especially those who study humanities and social sciences, tend to cluster around the middle of the day, falling into a few key blocks of time. Popular class times are 11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. or 12:30 to 2 p.m., as well as one-hour classes between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. These class times are favored by students who do not want to wake up for 9 a.m. classes, attend classes later in the day or have to work, but they directly conflict with a substantial number of the speaker events that are held on campus.
To compound this issue, events are often scheduled at times that do not align with common Brandeis class blocks. For instance, an event held from noon to 1:30 p.m. may seem like an ideal lunch event, but it conflicts with three of the different class blocks listed above — and few classes are held during that block. A similar dynamic occurs for events that start at 3 p.m., as 2 to 3:20 p.m. and 3:30 to 5 p.m. classes — or lab classes that fill the entire afternoon — are much more common than classes that start or end at 3 p.m., once again increasing the likelihood that classes conflict with events.
While classes will always conflict with events, it is possible to minimize conflicts by being aware of popular class times. When scheduling events, departments should consider these times, and work to find times that conflict with as few time blocks as possible. Putting events within popular class blocks has two advantages — it minimizes the number of blocks that they conflict with, and it also makes it easier for professors, should they choose and should the timing align, to bring their students to relevant events. Additionally, few Brandeis classes occur after 5 p.m., making that a good start time for events.
We urge departments to consider and prioritize students when scheduling events, because we recognize how important and inspiring these events can be, and we want to maximize their accessibility and benefit.