Chase Duncan

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Common time has returned for Winthrop University students and faculty after it was eliminated indefinitely in 2020 to promote social distancing during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Common time is a class free period between 11 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as after 2 p.m. on Fridays.

The period was created in 2009 to give Winthrop students and faculty more free time and “to minimize scheduling conflicts,” according to the Winthrop website.

The university also says that common time establishes a predictable pattern to help schedule meetings throughout the academic semester.

“I’m personally pretty excited about the return of common time, just because I have so many back to back classes,” junior Ravyn Speigner said.

“This year, I’m taking almost 18 credit hours, and Tuesdays and Thursdays are my busiest days, so to have that hour and a half where I don’t have to participate in classes and I don’t have to do anything; that is pretty fantastic.”

Speigner, who is the student and editor-in-chief of the Roddey McMillan Record magazine, said common time is best used is to schedule or attend meetings, which is often done as the leader of a student publication.

“Most everyone is scheduling meetings for common time, so I still have things to do, but they’re not purely academic and I think that’s helping my mental health a lot,” Speigner said.

Common time is also a boon for faculty members, who use the free period to grade assignments, commute across campus or meet with colleagues.

“I think it’s very handy to have set aside time for meetings, at a time for students to meet when classes aren’t going to happen,” Bill Schulte, a professor of mass communication, said. “That was the idea behind common time in the first place; is that these things can be collected, we can collectively get together and talk about what we need to talk about.

“I think it’s great that it’s coming back. If I’m being honest, I think it was kind of frustrating when it went away,” he said.

Schulte said he has already used common time this semester to grade papers and advise students.