Dead Day may be dead by spring

By Natasha Bhuyan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, September 24, 2004

Students asked to weigh in on changes to spring's final exam schedule

Dead Day could soon be a luxury of the past if the final exam schedule changes this spring as expected.

Students have been asked for their opinion on which of three potential final exam schedules could replace the existing schedule in May.

Patti King, associate registrar for curriculum, said the Undergraduate Council was asked to consider three new proposals last week for the spring 2005 final exam schedule.

Although changes to the final exam schedule have been discussed in the past, the issue was brought up this year when college deans requested the final exam schedule be changed Edie Auslander, vice president and senior associate to the president, said concerns about the final exam schedule were partially related to commencement ceremony changes.

In the past, Friday college convocation ceremonies coincided with some students' finals, prompting complaints from students and parents. If the December university-wide ceremony had been canceled, some students would have been forced to miss their college convocation ceremonies as well as the university graduation.

Despite the restoration of the December commencement ceremony, King said UGC will still discuss the changes to the exam schedule in order to prevent future conflicts with college convocations.

Since it is too late to change the final exam schedule for the fall, the proposals being discussed will only affect spring finals, Auslander said.

Under the current exam schedule, students attend their last day of classes Wednesday prior to final exams week. Thursday is "Reading Day," popularly known as "Dead Day." Finals begin Friday and last for one week.

The new proposals attempt to eliminate the second Friday of finals so exams will not overlap with any college convocation ceremonies.

The first of the three proposals would add Saturday as an examination day, eliminating the second Friday.

The second proposal would add Dead Day as an examination day, so finals would begin the day after classes ended.

The third proposal would reduce the passing period between final exams from one hour to half an hour. In this case, finals would be held from Friday to the following Thursday.

The UGC meets monthly and is composed of 25 representatives from campus constituencies, such as the colleges, the student body, and academic advisers. Prior to discussing significant issues, each representative consults with his or her constituents for different perspectives.

"Most UGC members with whom I've spoken feel strongly that we must leave sufficient time to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option," said Jim Shockey, associate dean of instruction for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and UGC member.

UGC will vote on the final exam schedule changes Sept. 28. Members of UGC spent this week soliciting feedback from students, staff and faculty, King said.

Emily Upstill, academic affairs director for ASUA and UGC member, said she is conducting a survey to gather as much student input as possible before they vote on a proposal. However, Upstill pointed out UGC is working quickly because the spring schedule of classes was released this week, and students register for classes in October.

"The problem is the final exam schedule won't be posted with the spring class schedule," Upstill said. "But it needs to be out as soon as possible after the publication of student classes."

Shockey said once UGC votes on the issue, the final exam proposal will be reviewed by other campus groups before it is implemented by the Office of Curriculum and Registration.

Sharon Kha, UA spokeswoman, said Faculty Senate must officially approve UGC's recommendation.

Although some students have already been consulted on the issue through their colleges, list server and surveys, Upstill said student opinions are divided.

Bennett Harte, a pre-business sophomore, said he hopes the university preserves Dead Day.

"I think Dead Day is important to keep because it gives you a break," Harte said.

Harte said of the three options, he prefers reducing the amount of time between passing periods during finals.

But Elaine Bailey, a graduate student in psychology, said the one hour passing periods are important between finals because they give students time to recover from the previous exam, review notes for the next final, and make their way across campus, if necessary.

But either way, Bailey said she would be happy to end finals a day earlier.

"Where I went to undergraduate school, we had finals on Saturday," said Bailey, who attended Duke University. "It gets them out of the way."

Students who wish to voice their opinion on the final exam schedule changes should consult their academic advisers before the Sept. 28 meeting.