Following years of undergraduate student complaints about the “Week Preceding Final Examinations” (WPFE), more commonly known as “Dead Week,” SGA is now making a move toward a defined policy to be reviewed in November.
If the Academic Senate passes the policy, then it will be implemented in Spring 2010. In addition, the policy will also be found in the Registrar’s catalog for students to access and familiarize themselves with.
The only current mention of WPFE is found in a single clause of the Faculty Handbook, which prohibits faculty from giving quizzes or tests after the Wednesday of WPFE.
The purpose of WPFE is to “allow students time to properly integrate and master material prior to final examinations,” said a press release from SGA’s Academic Affairs committee about the progress toward the upcoming policy, which focuses on limiting the assignments due on WPFE.
The biggest concern amongst SGA representatives and students in previous years has been the lack of faculty compliance with the clause due to lack of knowledge by the faculty or sometimes lack of enforcement by the upper administration. In a survey conducted by SGA, students mentioned that “the current state of affairs in Dead Week is far too stressful and time-pressured to be conducive to studying of a semester’s worth of course material,” according to the aforementioned press release from SGA.
“We’re trying to open up the chain of communication a little more,” said Rob Parrish, third-year ME and chair of SGA’s Academic Affairs Committee that has been active in the preparation of the proposal for the past four months.
“We are developing a full marketing campaign to ensure that all stake holders know exactly what the policy is. Quite frankly, we can pass the most stringent policy imaginable, but unless everyone is aware of it, nothing will really change,” said C.T. Boone, third-year MGT and SGA Vice President of Communications.
Policy builders acknowledge that professors are not completely at fault as they do plan or 16 full weeks to cover all the academic material necessary for the final exam. A WPFE policy has not been put in place due to previous “faculty concerns of violations of academic freedom,” according to the prior mentioned press release.
“This is a compromise between students and faculty. We need some things in WPFE that are pedagogically sound to help students, not to hurt them,” Parrish said.
In the Student Regulations Committee meeting on Oct. 14, a consensus was reached for the new policy that professors may assign projects to be due during WPFE, given that the guidelines for either are properly outlined by the deadline for class withdrawal.