Dean of Students Glenn Smith proposed “Community Hour,” a time when students, faculty and staff “might gather informally or at structured events during weekdays,” in an email sent Oct. 27.
“We plan to dedicate Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12-1:20 p.m. for community time starting Fall 2023,” Smith said in the email. “This will give the entire campus community an opportunity to gather, converse, enjoy good food and get to know one another better.”
Madison Christensen, a senior sociology major, said the block of time would improve students’ wellbeing.
“A lot of us are working outside of campus as well [as school],” Christensen said. “Being able to take time that would normally be reserved for a class, even if that’s not actively going to the community hours, but knowing that there is that specific time where [students] don’t have to have class, is going to be really beneficial for a lot of people’s mental health.”
Community Hour might also lead to an increase in productivity, according to Christensen.
President Beth Dobkin said the kinds of activities that will take place during Community Hour range from pop-up teach-ins to lectures, concerts with music on Richer Commons and food trucks, presidential addresses and also time for nothing scheduled.
“It strikes me that there’s no one time during the day when everyone is available,” President Dobkin said. “So, you don’t really get a sense of the campus as full because at any given time, a proportion [of people] is in class.”
Community Hour will provide an opportunity for people to find each other and “just be together, even over lunch,” according to President Dobkin.
“A lot of campuses do it. We’ve just never really carved out that time,” President Dobkin said.
Dean of Students Glenn Smith said Community Hour will provide students and faculty with casual “hangout time” that will positively impact the student experience here at Westminster.
“We will build relationships and challenge each other to be better humans,” Smith said.
Kevin Randall, the director of strategic communications and a Westminster alum, said the allotted time will give him the opportunity to know the Westminster community better. Randall recently began working at the college in October 2022, according to the Office of Marketing and Communication.
“It’s important that I come to know the staff, faculty and most importantly, the students if I’m going to represent Westminster College accurately,” Randall said. “I need to know how people think, what issues are important to them and understand the vibe on campus.”
Brynlie (Binnie) Green, ASW president and senior justice studies major, said there won’t always be programmed events during Community Hour. Students will have a chance to spend time together and take a breather, according to Green.
“I think it’s especially important that we’re recuperating what might feel like time lost during the pandemic,” Green said. “I hope this time together will be healing for the community as a whole.”
Most campuses have a variation on Community Hour, according to Green, who also said it’s especially important to have time together next year during the first year as Westminster University.
The name change from Westminster College to Westminster University will take effect in Fall 2023, according to a previous Forum article on the update.