The UA Little Rock Student Government Association (SGA) proposed a request for a “dead hour” to create a time for students to participate in student organizations and social gatherings to The Academic Calendar and Schedules Committee (ACSC) who denied their request.
Other Arkansas four-year colleges have a similar time for their students to engage in campus life, including University of Central Arkansas and Henderson State University. ACSC was tasked by the Faculty Senate to make a recommendation regarding SGA’s proposal. They decided by a narrow vote the proposal was not sound.
The proposal was initially dismissed by the ACSC in a letter addressed to the President of UA Little Rock Faculty Senate Amanda Nolen.
“Regardless of when the dead hour is held,creating a block of time in which NO classes are scheduled will require rescheduling classes and disrupt current scheduling practices, many of which have been in place for several years,” Catherine Crisp, the ACSC Chair, wrote in the letter.
While SGA President Katie Zakrzewski acknowledges some of the ACSC’s concerns are legitimate, she believes the language of the rejection letter signifies an “out-of-touch” attitude. She quoted UA System President Donald Bobbit, explaining universities are in a competitive market.
“This is why UA Little Rock is in the stone ages compared to other universities,” Zakrzewski said. “If you think that every other university in Arkansas has that ‘well it has always worked for us so we’re going to keep doing it’ mentality, that is not correct. That is why UA Little Rock’s numbers look the way they do.”
The ACSC wrote that UA Little Rock is not comparable to UCA or HSU because these schools have more traditional student bodies. They said UA Little Rock is a commuter college more comparable to UA Pulaski Tech, a two-year commuter college that does not have a dead hour.
Zakrzewski says the belief that UA Little Rock is on a different level than other Arkansas colleges might be one reason enrollment has dropped.
“If you do not think that we are on these universities’ level, that is why UA Little Rock is currently in the situation that they are in,” Zakrzewski said. “We literally have faculty and staff members who do not think that we can reach the level of other four-year universities and that we instead are at the level of a two-year college.”
The ACSC wrote another reason they voted against the proposal is because the time SGA chose conflicts with two class periods. SGA president Zakrzewski and other SGA members selected the time of 1:30-2:30 p.m. to be the designated dead hour because it is a time when students are normally on campus. The ACSC wrote if the Faculty Senate ignores their recommendation, they request the dead hour take place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00-9:15 a.m. or 3:05-4:20 p.m. because these times do not conflict with two class periods. They also said similar dead times could occur on Fridays if used with “minimal disruption.”
The times chosen by the ACSC are undesirable to Zakrzewski because she said students are not usually on campus during those hours. She said a time during the middle of the day on a day when there are classes would be ideal.
Another reason why the ACSC does not agree with the proposal is because they believe it would require faculty and staff to expend resources.
“A revision of the schedule will require additional faculty and staff resources at a time when resources are limited,” Crisp wrote.
Zakrzewski argues the dead hour implementation would not be taxing on UA Little Rock faculty and staff. She said this time could be used to meet with other faculty members, catch up on work or rest.
In response to the dead hour, 60% of responding chairs from all five of the university’s colleges “thought it was a good idea,” according to data provided by Crisp. SGA members shared a poll on social media to ask students if they thought the dead hour was a good idea. They received a 100% approval rate from over 100 voting UA Little Rock students.
The Faculty Senate did not reject SGA’s proposal despite the ACSC’s rejection letter. Instead, they are creating an ad hoc committee to review the rejection of the proposal and bring back a new and improved plan. As soon as the new ad hoc committee is created to investigate this cause, the Faculty Senate will update SGA and the student body of developments involving the dead hour proposal.
Zakrzewski will address the Faculty Senate to discuss her concerns with the ACSC’s rejection letter. She said the letter embodies language that is detrimental to the university’s advancement.
“You cannot have students coming to you, being active, doing research and genuinely wanting something, getting shot down the moment they bring an idea forward,” Zakrzewski said.
Zakrzewski realizes these changes will not happen overnight, but she said she hopes the dead hour will be implemented in the next few semesters.
The communication team at UA Little Rock will send a Google form to the entire student body in coming weeks to ask students their opinion about the dead hour. Students will have an opportunity to contact Zakrzewski if they have questions, concerns or comments.