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Columbia Removes Controversial Time Management Chart

The chart in question. A PDF of the full page, in which the chart appeared, is included at the end of this post.

On Monday, student Alix Prybyla brought to our attention a Columbia-released time management chart, which made recommendations such as spending 2 hours a week for personal hygiene, 2 hours a week for exercise, and 49.5 hours a week for homework/studying.

In addition, the page normalized 1.5 hours of free time a day, which covered extracurriculars, checking emails, and other “generally decompressing” activities such as, yep, “job searching” and “medical appointments.”

Especially in light of past suicide deaths and Columbia’s supposed emphasis on mental health, these recommendations were…interesting. More specifically, it seemed to fail to accommodate for basic human needs by allotting 17 minutes a day to personal hygiene (because we can shower and do a full load of laundry within that time), disregarded the disabled with the time allotted for medical appointments, and reinforced an intense academic culture by affirming 50 hours a week for homework alone as healthy.

Prybyla’s Facebook post about the chart has since garnered 63 shares and nearly 400 reactions, mainly from  Columbia students.

However, after Prybyla emailed both Dean Valentini and Dean of Student Life Cristen Kromm regarding the information, Valentini stated that the page was outdated and written by “a single student.” He ordered the information to be taken down and, as of Tuesday, October 24, the web page is no longer accessible on the Columbia website.

At least there exists a faint glimmer of hope in this story. In a talk with Bwog, Prybyla wanted to make this clear to students: “Our indignation is what led to this to go to the administration. We have a voice on this campus: we have the power to better our community together. Our outrage and pain, our compassion and love for each other, this is what toppled this page down, and what started conversations among our administration.”

The removal of the page itself is a great move, but we’re left wondering, why did it take so long? The page itself was featured pretty prominently on the Columbia website and has existed since at least June 2016, according to web archives. The school should more critically reflect upon itself and the messages it sends to students, whether it be through websites or policies themselves. Failure to do so could potentially impart very real consequences upon the student body.

Below is Prybyla’s email correspondence with administration:

Below is the full original web page, with the time management chart:

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  • CC ‘09 says:

    @CC ‘09 Clearly the chart’s author was not a Speccie

  • Nate, CC alum says:

    @Nate, CC alum They can take the chart down but it doesn’t change the fact that that is the sort of schedule it would take for most people to get good grades. Unless they make policies that reduce the amount of homework, they are indirectly promoting a schedule like this or even unhealthier.

    Also, 9 total hours a week of free time, counting weekends? What fucking assholes.

  • 2nd Opinion says:

    @2nd Opinion I think it bears mentioning that reading the page without preconceptions, one would see that this is an “example” worksheet, one that is intended to demonstrate the large time commitments people make and how outrageous they can be, as evidenced by the fact that the caption for the figure starts with “Wow!” It was intended to show that students should cut back on commitments, seen in the section “What does this mean for you?”, where they explicitly state students should cut back on time spent on coursework if they don’t think they have enough free time (implying, though ineffectively, that they don’t). Certainly Columbia has a long way to go on this issue, but attacking a resource (albeit a poorly written one) that is meant to help, by misrepresenting what the page actually said does not help anyone and in fact hurts by perpetuating this notion of antagonism between the administration and students, with the effect of removing the sense of agency from students who, in reality, have a real power to make campus culture better with their own decisions.

    1. Seas 16 says:

      @Seas 16 I agree, but the main item on the table that ate up all the free time in this case was absurd study time, which they calculated through “prevailing wisdom” so it does normalize the time commitment presented somewhat

  • Seas 16 says:

    @Seas 16 That is definitely not the schedule most people would need to take for good grades. How many people are actually spending 49.5hrs a week on hw? Thats literally 70hrs with actual classtime and majority of students def take more than 15 credits sometime over the years which was the assumption

  • anon says:

    @anon Nobody in the administration is putting pressure on Columbia students to do multiple majors or overload their schedules. You can graduate with 124 points and one concentration and have the same Bachelor of Arts as the double majors with 150 points. To get to 124 in 8 semesters with no AP credit, you need 15 or 16 points a semester at most. (OK, if you’re a premed, you probably need to do more.)
    People freaking out about that admittedly confusing and poorly presented sample schedule–whose message is indeed that the sample student has TOO MUCH on their plate– should note that it includes 8 hours of sleep a night, something Columbia students could actually benefit from!

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