More Common Ground
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 01:02
Professors are often an untapped resource on campus. While listening to their lectures or participating in their classroom discussions are certainly enriching in their own right, there is an added benefit to one-on-one interactions. Such person-to-person engagement with a faculty member can lead to enhanced learning, more substantive breakthroughs and greater insight.
Yet between juggling a full course load and extracurricular commitments, finding time to meet with a professor and develop a relationship can be difficult. Some — especially those younger and newer to the Hilltop — can find the idea of approaching a professor intimidating.
One program that helps students meet professors is the Midnight MUG office hours program, in which participating faculty members who set up shop for office hours on Lau 2 are rewarded with a free drink credit for themselves and their students. While the financial incentive is definitely a bonus, the location itself — a student hub, rather than the austere innards of a professor’s tiny office — is the true draw. The university apparently recognizes this importance, serving as benefactor for the program.
The casual atmosphere provides a sort of "neutral territory" where students can feel more comfortable. What would otherwise be a stiff question-and-answer session becomes a friendly conversation. The program should be expanded to other on-campus locations, such as Sellinger Lounge or the third floor of Regents Halls by the Einstein Bros. Bagels kiosk. More professors should be encouraged to participate in the program, which would not necessarily lead to professors having to provide more office hours. Perhaps a system could be created in which their current hours could be split between their offices and other, more student-friendly locations.
All Georgetown professors are required to hold office hours. Conducting at least some of them on student turf would help ensure that a greater number of students are encouraged to engage with one of Georgetown’s greatest assets: its faculty.