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Issue of the Week: New Final Schedule


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Illustration by Arnie Bermudez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
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Yesterday, of the three proposals for a revised finals schedule, the Undergraduate Council voted in favor of shortening the passing period between tests from one hour to just half. In light of this event, our columnists are weighing in on the decision and the preliminary actions that occurred before the final vote.

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Susan Bonicillo
Opinions editor

Dead Day be damned

Honestly, I would have preferred the Dead Day option had been victorious instead.

Now, before you burn me at the stake for mouthing such blasphemy about this most sacred day in the academic calendar, please hear me out.

Theoretically, Dead Day is a brilliant idea. Give students a day off before finals in order to study, thus making them better prepared for the trials that await them in the form of multiple choices and the dreaded in-class essay.

Yet for many students, Dead Day represents a free day in which to party and in the process kill a few valuable brain cells that they will need for their upcoming tests.

Having this hiatus is unnecessary and, to go a step further, detrimental. Dead Day is just merely a cruel illusion. It's a poor, sad substitute for the break we will experience after finals. It gives students a taste of lazing about without a deadline in sight and then cruelly snatching it away as reality sinks in.

Reducing the passing period puts at a disadvantage those students who require an adequate amount of time in order to stuff their brains back into their heads after a particularly grueling final.

Moreover, though it was a polite concession that students were consulted on this issue, they should have been given more time to voice their opinion.

Though student opinion wasn't shut out, the administration did not give necessary time and publicity about changing finals.

Susan Bonicillo is a junior majoring in English. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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Laura Keslar
columnist

Benefits gained from reduced passing periods

I was highly disappointed the Undergraduate Council only considered three options as the spring finals schedule is re-examined. After all, if I had a real choice, I would opt for no finals whatsoever or ending classes Tuesday and having Dead Day Wednesday. As much as I would like to see finals go the way of the dinosaurs, neither of these options is plausible or even considered.

But of all the options proposed, reducing the amount of time spent between finals is the way to go. It won't infringe on the "Star Wars" marathons that occur on Dead Day or the drives home to Mom on the weekends. You even get out of finals sooner.

And besides, how relaxing can only one hour be? I am sure you can use it to recollect yourself after you were brutally attacked by your analytical chemistry exam, but honestly, that shouldn't be taking an hour to accomplish.

Heck, if it is all that important to be given a chance to recuperate from a test, shorten the passing time to 15 minutes. It's always being reported that exercising (in this case, running) helps clear the mind.

True, more finals will occur on the same day with this proposition; however, think of the benefits: Dead Day, a full two-day weekend, and going home a day earlier than last semester.

Laura Keslar is a pre-pharmacy junior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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Moe Naqvi
columnist

Take Saturday away from partygoers

Dead Day is a lot like Valentine's Day. None of us really look forward to it, but when it comes there is no way to avoid it. Dead Day is full of anxious students studying, and if it were in my hands, I would completely eradicate the process of taking the final exam.

But then again, if it were in my hands, no one would want to attend this university.

The best overall proposal for changing the format of Finals Week would have been adding Saturday as a test-taking day. Some students would have been heartbroken if this layout is put in effect because they would have one less day of partying, but then again, I don't care.

If college kids really want to party, then can go ahead and do so. It will be nice to know that I have an army of future grocery baggers at hand.

The main goal for altering Finals Week is to delete the following Friday so that no convocation ceremonies coincide with exams. Adding Saturday to the Finals Week is smart because then passing periods between finals are not cut and students have all of Dead Day to study.

Shortening passing periods puts students at a disadvantage because then there isn't a sufficient amount of time to take a break and review notes for the next exam.

One suggestion for making Saturday more conducive to test taking is starting at around 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. A later start to begin final exams would mean students have an extra layer of time buffer to be well-rested, catch some brunch, review final notes and watch Saved by the Bell.

Moe Naqvi is a physiological sciences freshman. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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Brett Berry
columnist

Sacrificing 30 minutes to save Dead Day

This week, the possibility that Dead Day would be eliminated was upsetting, though the ultimate goal of helping graduating seniors attend their convocations is a legitimate one. But what to do?

The only thing you can do - and what the Undergraduate Council also saw as the best and most appropriate option - is to reduce the passing periods between exams.

I think Dead Day is essential to final exam success. Not only does it give students more daylight hours to cram for tests, but it also gives them a class-free day that they can sleep in without repercussions - one late morning to catch up on sleep before pulling off a sequence of caffeine-dependent all-nighters.

Though the reduced passing period plan could be problematic, especially if you have several tests on one day, it's probably the best option. And even if you have consecutive tests on one day, it's not like most finals take the entirety of the two hours.

Suppose you had two consecutive tests. If you finish 15 minutes early on the first, that'd still give you 45 minutes (counting the reduced 30 minute passing period idea) before the next test. That should give you plenty of time to get to the exam room and prepare your brain for a different test.

And anyway, if you have consecutive tests, it's going to suck anyway. At that point, an extra half an hour won't cut your stress or save your grade.

Brett Berry is a regional development junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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Ryan Johnson
columnist

Options unimaginative, survey poorly worded

Getting student feedback is something this university needs to do more of, so on the one hand this survey deserves applause. How often does the university simply set policies without asking for student input?

But on the other hand, I've taken the survey. It is poorly worded and needs supplementary explanations just for the reader to be able to understand it. For example, it doesn't even explain what passing time is.

It also leaves many questions unanswered. When the spring semester starts on a Wednesday, why can't they just start it on a Tuesday instead to make way for the extra day? It would bump out what, spring semester freshman orientation?

Or why can't they extend the hours of final exams each day? Or put graduations later at night?

The survey could easily have included more options, at least for information gathering purposes. It would have been wise to ask, for example, what percentage of students study on Dead Day and what percentage use it as a big party day.

Of the three options, selecting the proposal of changing the passing time from one hour to 30 minutes is the most reasonable. Whether you call Dead Day a big party day or a big study day, it serves as a nice transition to finals. And the number of students with consecutive finals is limited, not to mention many professors have short or non-existent finals.

Ryan Johnson is an international studies and economics junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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Keren G. Raz
columnist

Students got it wrong

Students don't always know what's best.

And yesterday's recommendation issued by the Undergraduate Council is a perfect illustration of that fact.

Apparently, the recommendation to reduce passing time by half an hour to free Friday up for college commencements was made because that's what most students want.

(Please note that "most students" is actually defined as only a couple hundred surveyed students. The UA student population is close to 40,000.)

Also, I bet few of those who responded have ever had two or more finals run back to back in the same day.

I bet if they did, they would be voicing a different opinion.

Losing that half hour is as bad as losing Dead Day.

For some, it takes 15 minutes to cross campus to get to the next final. That leaves 15 minutes to transition from organic chemistry to vector calculus, from Shakespeare to African American literature.

I'm assuming the passing period doesn't cut through lunch or dinner, in which case the 15 minutes has to go toward eating rather than preparing.

The council that has issued this proposal is made up of faculty who represent their own colleges. The recommendation would be easier to stomach if I knew it was based on what faculty wanted.

But no, it is based on what they say a few students want.

Come on, let's be reasonable here.

There's a clear choice between what's right and what students want.

Luckily, Faculty Senate still has the chance to do what's right.

Keep passing time at one hour.

Schedule finals on Saturday.

It won't kill anyone to sacrifice a weekend.

Keren G. Raz is a senior majoring in political science and English. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.



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