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random musings of a crazy cat lady

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Boo F*&^ing Hoo

In an attempt to reduce stress for the students, the administration has proposed adding another break to the spring semester and lengthening the Thanksgiving break slightly. In addition to the current spring break, there would be another short break in February. To make up for the couple of days that this would entail, the pre-finals study period would be shortened from seven days to four, the finals period would be shortened from eight to six, and "senior week' would go from seven days to three. (yes, it's true, the last day of classes is May 4, and graduation is May 27. You do the math.) I would've expected that this would be popular, but then again I am an old biddy who never got a study period. We had "Dead Week", where we didn't have any tests or assignments due, but still had classes. Finals week was five days, and the senior week was 3-4 days, depending on when you finished your finals. We were on the quarter system, so we did this did this three times a year, not two. As far as I know, it is still done this way there. A quick poll of grad students and friends at other universities revealed that a minimal study period is still pretty much the norm. Nonetheless, the proposal precipitated a giant shitstorm from the students because they think this will greatly increase stress. I just don't get it. Don't get me wrong, I would've liked to have a week with no classes prior to finals, but if I could've traded some of it for a few days off during the term I would've totally done so. For me, a longer pre-finals and finals week would just prolong the stress, rather than help with it. While I respect the opinions of the students who are very outspoken in favor of the current schedule, there is part of me that wonders what the overall outcome would be with the proposed schedule. I suspect that it's a question of benefiting a few vs many people. The administration is probably thinking about the kind of extreme stress that can lead a few people to commit suicide, whereas the students may be thinking of it more in terms of their own personal stress. However, no one is coming out and saying this. Back at MIT we were no strangers to stress. We got a four day weekend every full month of classes. This was achieved by tacking on an extra day off for a few state or national holidays, ostensibly in the interest of keeping the MWF classes on track with the TTh classes. (Hello Patriot's Day!) The university claimed it was for stress relief, but the word on the street was that it was their way of preventing suicides. It seemed to work, and was quite popular with everyone. The cynic in me thinks that the Cornell students should just suck it up and have a few fewer days of partying in the interest of the greater good. They just might find that the extra vacations really help.

1 comment:

  1. here at UMD. we have dead week, then Study Day is actually Saturday, and finals all happen in one week. I agree with you that I think this was pretty normal, (except Study day for us was actually a weekday)