Universal Lunch Hour Cancelled, 8AM Lectures Scheduled for Redevelopment

The Union Court redevelopment will cause more 8AM classes, live-streaming lectures between rooms, and the removal of class breaks for Universal Lunch Hour. ANUSA is “hopeful” the weekly free lunch will continue despite the policy change.

For several years, ANU has scheduled no classes during the midday hour on Thursday, providing an ideal time for club events, live music, and a free lunch for all students. While tutorials and occasional lectures have slipped in over the years, it remains by far the most class-free time-slot in the academic week. But after this semester Thursday lunches will not be class free. ANUSA President James Connolly, at the College Representative Council, explained that ANUSA resisted the change but “some things needed to be sacrificed”. These sacrifices include scrapping Lunch Hour and holding more 8AM classes. Connolly told Observer that ANUSA “intends on continuing to provide its free lunch service”, though he made no guarantee, and said ANUSA is “still navigating the particulars” and searching for a location. ANU initially proposed also running classes until 9PM, but ANUSA and PARSA strongly resisted this proposal, arriving at the present compromise. ANU has said Lunch Hour will be restored at the end of the Union Court redevelopment. 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Marnie Hughes-Warrington pointed out that ANU classes already run from 8AM, and argued this would “not be a huge change”. When asked, she would not confirm whether more Monday morning classes would occur, but acknowledged classes would “use more of the week”. Lectures will also be held in Llewellyn Hall between 8AM and 6PM. The venue squeeze is due to demolition of the Manning Clark Centre, home to ANU’s largest lectures.  There will be no replacement for Manning Clark in the redevelopment; instead, ANU has promised “multi-purpose, multimodal, flexible learning spaces which will be embedded with new digital infrastructure” (Observer will provide more on this in future coverage). The demolition, starting July 1st, also affects Melville Hall, a major exam venue. The hall will be re-purposed as new ANUSA and PARSA offices, necessitating interim exam venues including the Crawford School and a Barry Drive venue.

Another pilot solution to the timetabling squeeze is “dual-link” lectures. Next semester, video cameras will be installed in the Haydon Allen Tank, to stream lectures live to the nearby Copland lecture theatre. Hughes-Warrington highlighted the success of this model in other universities, explaining, “In other institutions, students will more often sit in the room where the lecturer isn’t… they feel like they can talk, they can eat, and study with other students.” Hughes-Warrington also expressed that while dual-link was a “temporary solution”, and would be abandoned if not successful, it might be used further “if it turned out we thought it was a great idea”.

ANUSA President James Connolly told Observer he is seeking student feedback on timetabling changes. You can contact him at [email protected]