Yuan: Smarter Scheduling

by Ziqin Yuan | 5/18/15 6:35pm

In the May 19 story “Several classes to have exams over Green Key,” professors discussed their decisions regarding whether or not to consider Green Key in their curricula. Because the registrar’s website does not list Green Key as an official holiday, many professors said that they did not take the weekend into account when scheduling exams and assignments. I believe that professors should, on the contrary, take steps to ensure that all students can relax over Green Key weekend.

Some Green Key events were hosted by Programming Board, which also plans other entertainment events throughout the school year. Though Programming Board attempts to plan these concerts, such as the Coffeehouse Concerts, at times that are convenient for most people, it is difficult to make sure everyone can attend. It likewise makes sense that some concerts during Green Key, especially the earlier ones, coincided with some classes’ midterms.

Yet there is a difference between scheduling midterms right before Green Key, like many classes did, and scheduling them during or immediately after Green Key. The quarter system is fairly intensive — during one quarter, many students spend most of their time preparing for and taking a constant stream of midterms or writing a series of papers in quick succession. It is reasonable to ask for a break — one weekend when we can relax or even have the option to catch up on accumulated work. This winter, for example, Winter Carnival allowed me to catch up on both my sleep and coursework. After weeks of midterms, it was nice to have a break, however short, to spend some time thinking about things other than work.

Since Green Key is at the end of week seven, it is the perfect time for a short break. Most classes have their midterms around Green Key, and it should not be too difficult to move the midterms forward a day or two to prevent them from coinciding with festivities. Of course, in the days leading up to Green Key, we would have a higher concentration of work to do, but for most that would be preferable to having a lot of work during Green Key and the prospect of a midterm looming throughout the weekend.

Some professors may have other reasons for planning midterms and assignments during or right after Green Key. It is, after all, a big party weekend, and professors may be trying to keep their students as focused on the course as possible. Especially for introductory courses that cover a lot of material at a very fast pace, it is understandable that professors want to keep students thinking. It is not fair, however, to the students in those classes — while everyone else is able to relax because they have finished their midterms, these students must keep studying.

Beyond a midterm schedule more compatible with Green Key, many students also would prefer that classes be cancelled on the Friday of Green Key, just like they are for the Winter Carnival holiday. Yet the wisdom of cancelling Friday classes is questionable. Although festivities start on Wednesday or Thursday — some may say even earlier — Green Key itself, especially the concert, essentially takes place on Friday afternoon and evening. It is fair for professors to expect their students to attend Friday classes. Having class on the Friday of Green Key, however, poses another problem — many students simply do not come. At my introductory computer science class last Friday, a huge class of more than 150 people, less than half the students showed up, and I noticed that students in attendance were a lot more distracted than usual. I’m sure professors know that a lot of students might not show up to class on Friday, but professors should not cancel class just because some students cannot make responsible decisions regarding time management and class attendance.

Nevertheless, my main point stands — midterms and significant assignments should be assigned and completed prior to Green Key. The College may not consider Green Key a holiday, but nearly all students do. Green Key, with most of its events happening at night and in the afternoon, may seem unrelated to school work, but with midterms winding down and finals on the horizon, students deserve a short break. And even if students do not spend their weekends wisely, a pause from academics still has long-term benefits for many students’ mental and physical wellbeing.