Staff Editorial: Changes at Lawrence University

You may have noticed that this Lawrence is not quite the same Lawrence it was last year. Over the summer, renovations were made to campus locations, food services and more academic processes like registration. We’d like to explore how these changes have affected students and professors over the first few weeks of the year and how they may further impact us all in the future.

There have been welcome changes to food services. Kate’s Corner Store has expanded to include more food options and a new apparel section. Kaplan’s Cafe, meanwhile, has added a Cafe Express line, which has been helpful for students with tight schedules. The only downside how the regular line now wraps awkwardly through the seating area when the express line is operational. At a meal plan information forum on Sept. 19, director of the Warch Campus Center Greg Griffin said, “That’s literally a one-year operation, and it will be gone next year…We said, ‘We need [an express line]. How do we make it work for a year?’ And that will work as a test for us, and then we can do it the right way next year.” You can look forward to new developments to the Cafe Express line in the 2019-20 school year.

Returning students will have noticed more changes around campus than just the larger Corner Store and renovated Cafe, however. Residence Halls—most notably, Ormsby Hall and Sage Hall—have seen some major improvements. Sage Hall’s renovations, which began late last year, have finally been completed. Ormsby Hall has also seen updates to its bathrooms and kitchen—which many students agree have been long awaited. The Lawrence Memorial Chapel has become more eco-friendly with new LED stage lighting, and Brokaw Hall has received an exterior facelift. There are also some more major improvements on their way to the administrative offices in Brokaw: according to an email from Lawrence University President Mark Burstein, “We are in the early stages of updates to the Registrar, Financial Aid and Financial Services areas, developing new spaces that support processes to integrate and further automate the services provided by those offices.”

After a faculty vote in February 2018, the start-of-term registration period was reduced from ten class days to five class days. Interim registrar Nancy Truesdell believes that a shorter registration period will increase students’ ability to “engage fully with their courses.” Truesdell notes that in the past, some students would be 20% through the term before solidifying their class schedule, setting them behind their peers and making it more difficult for them to be successful. Additionally, faculty members benefit from knowing who will be in their classes from the first week. Many other colleges on a trimester system (such as Knox College and Carleton College) also have a one week class change period.

In the past, it has been a point of pride for Lawrentians to have a lot of freedom in their academic and extracurricular choices. This most recent change may seem like a slap in the face to those ideals, as it gives students less flexibility to arrange their classes once the term is underway, but with careful planning, students have as much freedom as before. The change will require significant adjustment for faculty and especially students but will ultimately be beneficial for all.