Officials considering four-day schedule for summer

By Allyson Simonton

This week, a decision will be made whether to close campus all
Fridays during the summer school session. According to Sharon
Reiter, assistant vice president of Human Resource Services, all
but a few buildings, such as Los Olivos, and two landscape
architect classes, which will only be held on Friday, will be shut
down.

If enacted, this would mean three-day weekends for most
students, faculty and staff from June 16 to Aug. 29. Two weeks
would be on a regular schedule due to the Fair Labor Standards Act
of 1938 which limits the work week to 40 hours. Offices would be
open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. instead of the usual 8 a.m. to 5
p.m.

The university has calculated that it would save more than
$36,000 on its utility bill, which is especially relevant during
the summer when air conditioning becomes necessary and expensive.
It would also reduce the university’s carbon footprint by using
less energy and having fewer cars commuting to and from campus.

“In time of tight budgets we have to come up with more creative
ways to save money and stretch our resources,” said Reiter.

Changing the Monday through Friday work week standardized by the
Fair Labor Standards Act is not a new idea.

In 1930, Cal Poly’s founder and famous cereal magnate W.K.
Kellogg decreased his company’s hours from 40 to 30 with great
success.

“The efficiency and morale of our employees is so increased, the
accident and insurance rates are so improved, and the unit cost of
production is so lowered that we can afford to pay as much for six
hours as we formerly paid for eight,” said Kellogg, according to
“The Ethics of the New Economy,” a book about restructuring
businesses.

Now, many companies and some schools are straying away from the
standard schedule and toward one that is considered more cost and
energy efficient.

Cal Poly has experimented with a variety of schedules in past
summers. In the summer of 2004, a schedule was implemented where
every other Friday was off. This had some disadvantages.

“Students were often confused. They would show up to school and
all the student services would be closed,” said Traci Lew,
Orientation Services coordinator. “It was hard to remember which
Fridays were open and which were closed.”

Lew doesn’t believe this would be a problem with the four days a
week, 10 hours a day schedule. She sees improvement in morale as
its greatest benefit.

“I can see a lot of people and a lot of offices saying, ‘Woo
hoo! Go for it,'” said Lew. “With the budget woes it would be
something nice to look forward to.”

According to an article on Journal Storage, an online database
of academic journals, the university could also look forward to
less absenteeism because doctor appointments could be scheduled for
Friday, less overtime pay for maintenance workers because they
would work Fridays instead of Saturdays and a generally happier
staff.

Whether or not the school decides to move to a shorter work
week, there will still only be two classes on Fridays. If there
were no Friday classes, students could look forward to shorter
commute times with less traffic to compete with and fewer days
where commuting is necessary.

Many students appreciated the financial benefits of this concept
most of all.

“It would help us save money on gas,” said John Ing, a
fourth-year international business and marketing student.

Another student pointed out that with the current budget
situation, the concept of a shorter school week is timely.

“If we only had school four days a week, students would have
more full days to work and earn money to pay for the outrageous
tuition increases,” said Cara Aufdermaur, a fourth-year hotel and
restaurant management student.

The main arguments against the system are the problem of
childcare and the question of productivity.

Most daycare centers don’t operate on the 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
schedule, but the university would make allowances for employees
with young children. For instance, these employees could take
shorter lunch breaks and leave early to pick up their children.

Working long hours can cause fatigue, but according to
earthfirst.com, people still get their work done and actually waste
less time because they aren’t as burned out after a long
weekend.

“I think it works really well. It makes for long days, but we
all work long days anyways,” said Ed Barnes, associate vice
president for Executive Affairs. “The days off really make up for
it.”

Barnes pointed out that instead of spending Saturdays doing
chores and errands, employees could do them Friday and spend
Saturday in the ideal way – relaxing and having a good time.

“No one’s talking about doing it year-round – yet,” said Barnes.
“Never say never.”

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