@WaityKatie I've had a think about this and figured out what it is for me:
Since precise arrival time is impossible to predict within a window smaller than 30min, *someone* is almost definitely going to be waiting around. If you leave enough time to almost-certainly get there on time, you also might end up sitting there for 25 minutes because everything went perfectly.
So it's more fair to set a window of time, and both (or all) people aim to get there in that window. That way everyone has a roughly equal chance of being the one sitting around, and if you meet up regularly, it's likely that will be spread around the group or pairing.
@Jawnita I think it's because it's impossible to predict how long journeys will take - if you schedule enough time to get there at or before the agreed time, you might be the one sitting there for half an hour with the creepy stranger and no food, or whatever. So "meet you at ___" are more implied windows of ~30min after.
Another part of it might be just that I don't see 30 minutes as such a crucial amount of time - to me <30min is "buffer", and if you're so incredibly important and busy that you can't spare half an hour in your jam-packed day, bring your work along with you maybe?
But I recognise that a big part of this is the difference between living in a city where everything is served by extensive public transport, and in one where people drive or walk to where they're going, because even the best public transport makes precise arrival times impossible.
Sorry, just read the second half of the comments - @SuperGogo, yes - that's what I mean! Also, I really love that they included that in your orientation. That's a really smart thing to realise they need to tell people about, but that wouldn't necessarily be included in an orientation package, so WELL DONE YOUR UNI basically.
Wow, I really don't get this at all. I don't know if it's living in a large city where journey times are predictable to within 30 minutes but no more, but I don't know anyone who takes specific times ("let's meet at 8") to be anything more than an approximation, unless it's for something like a film or play/ballet/opera where we have tickets and there's a start time. Everyone I know just carries a book or magazine to read on the train or bus, so killing time isn't a big deal. When I have a party at mine and tell people it starts at 6, I don't expect anyone to turn up until around 7-7:30. "I'll meet you there at noon" means "I will almost certainly be there by 12:30, probably". Getting there at 11:55 would be SO BIZARRE to me. I don't want to go "oh ha ha, is this a European vs American thing, CULTURAL DIFFERENCES, ha ha", but...is this a European vs American thing?