UM will no longer start classes 10 minutes late on ‘Michigan Time’

ANN ARBOR (mlive) — A time-honored tradition for students and faculty on the University of Michigan campus is coming to an end in May.

“Michigan Time,” the unspoken practice of starting classes, meetings and events 10 minutes after the designated start time to allow for travel time across campus, will end May 1 at the start of the spring semester, the university announced this week.

In other words, if you have a class scheduled for 9 a.m., instruction in that class currently doesn’t start until 9:10 a.m. That had been the case at UM since 1930, when President Alexander Ruthven asked the deans to establish a uniform time for dismissing and opening classes, while allowing students time to travel across campus from class to class.

The switch will be accomplished without any change in the time devoted to classes or to transition between classes, UM noted.

Instead, the 10-minute transition time will move before the hour instead of after the hour. So classes that end on the hour will end 10 minutes earlier.

For UM sophomore Mitchell Calvin, having an extra 10 minutes of Michigan Time was something he took advantage of when running a few minutes behind in the morning or in traveling to back-to-back classes.

“The biggest thing is scheduling classes back-to-back — there is a huge advantage to that,” Calvin said. “If I had a class that went from 8:30 to 10, and another class that starts at 10 — if there is a 5-minute walk, usually you wouldn’t be able to make it, but with Michigan Time you could.”

While microbiology major Jack Vorwald agreed that Michigan Time was convenient in scheduling classes back-to-back, starting promptly on the hour, instead of 10 minutes later won’t make a huge difference in the scheme of things.

“I love Michigan Time, especially in the mornings if you’re running a little slow, it gives you that extra couple of minutes to get to class if you missed your alarm or overslept,” he said. “Obviously the most important part of it, in my opinion, is the time in between classes. I’m someone who likes to stack all of their classes at once. If they’re offering the 10 minutes afterward instead of before, for me, that’s good enough. I just need time to travel from one class to another and not be late for a lecture.”

Moving away from Michigan Time was the result of a need for consistency among all schools and colleges, UM Provost Martin Philbert said. Currently, some schools and colleges operate on Michigan Time and others do not.

“Currently, there is no uniform time around campus and start times vary among all schools and colleges,” Philbert said in a news release. “The change comes as we have seen an ever-growing need to have students take interdisciplinary classes, and to utilize classrooms and other spaces to their fullest extent.”

Making the switch also will allow the campus community to be in sync with off-campus activities, including athletic events, meetings, transportation schedules and for students who hold jobs, the university noted.

UM anthropology student Carly Padgett said she has been guilty of taking advantage of Michigan Time for reasons that extended beyond the classroom. Ultimately, when the class officially starts or ends won’t have an impact on the length of the class.

“I definitely used Michigan Time to my advantage and I used it beyond the point of getting to back-to-back classes,” Padgett said. “If I had a few extra minutes to continue my Netflix show, then I would take it.

“Whether or not we start on the hour and end 10 minutes early or 10 minutes after the hour and end on the hour, our classes are still the same length,” she added. “Professors who know students’ time and respect it and wrap things up will continue to do that. Instructors who tend to go over because they want to get in those last few slides are going to continue to do that. I don’t think it’s going to change the character of the instructors or the culture.”

Officials noted that many of the university’s units are on “clock time” for faculty and staff meetings and Michigan Time for classes, which causes confusion and friction. Switching to clock time would benefit students, according to the university, enabling them to take classes offered by all schools and colleges.

UM College of Literature, Science and the Arts (LSA) student Callie Belanger anticipates it could be a difficult transition for some students, but dropping Michigan Time ultimately creates more uniformity across campus.

“I think it’s a good thing because schools like LSA use Michigan Time, but not every school uses it, like the nursing school, which works with the hospital,” she said. “I think it’s a good thing to make the school more uniform.

“I think it will be similar,” she added. “People will just need to think about it a little differently being at the end of the hour instead of the beginning.”