We were disappointed to see the final version of the Dead Week policy (now to be referred to as the “Week Proceeding Final Examinations” (WPFE) policy) that was passed by the Faculty Senate. While we were excited to see a formal policy finally written down to be followed, it is disheartening to see such a weak policy as an outcome.
The new WPFE policy tells professors what they “should” do without backing it with enforceable mandates. Students were under the impression that a dead week policy would forbid large projects and assignments in the preceding week for classes with a traditional final exam. That week should focus on review and allowing students to prepare for the stressful week of finals ahead.
Stipulating that assignments are acceptable if on the syllabus ahead of time does not alleviate any stress. It simply informs students that they will not ever be given free time to study until the last minute. At the very least, students have the right to know what their grades are by the end of dead week, to prepare for the final.
Once a policy is put into place, there must be a way to enforce that professors follow the rules set out. Currently, there is no way to hold professors accountable, fostering the same problems that people have always had with the policy. An appropriate punishment for violators should be determined and enforced.
Additionally, the practice of including “reading days” without classes before finals is common at other schools, and should be considered as an option here. If the goal of classes is to effectively learn as much material as possible, no one will feel the loss of a final day’s worth of cramming in last-minute material before exams.
We hope that a new policy will be created that actually supports the rights of students and alleviates finals pressure, because the one released will do nothing to help WPFE anytime soon.