May 24, 2011

Reading, period

Professors should not hold class or schedule exams during reading period

Now that the threat of the apocalypse has passed, students at the U of C face a slightly more prosaic problem: Finals.

Finals, of course, are a necessary evil, and we all accept both their existence and the fact that they are meant to be challenging and stressful. However, one aspect of finals week at the University of Chicago that remains inexcusable is the sheer lack of respect from professors and departments regarding reading period.

Our reading period, unlike those at many other colleges, only lasts two days. Thus, students taking a full course load at the U of C have, at most, four days (including the weekend) to prepare for up to four final exams and papers. It is simply baffling that, given the short amount of time students have to prepare for the most stressful work of the quarter, professors would schedule classes, labs, and assignments.

Scheduling classes and labs during reading period creates a major hassle for students. Having two full days at the end of tenth week for students to catch up on coursework can be extremely helpful; for many, reading period is the only opportunity to take a break from doing assignments and problem sets and instead focus on mastering previously-learned material. Requiring students to attend classes and labs during reading period means that they will only have two full days to review and master a quarter’s worth of course material.

Similarly, professors who schedule their finals during reading period should at least offer students the option of taking the exam at an alternate date during regular finals week. Scheduling final exams during reading period is unfair and unreasonable for students because it robs them of vital studying time for their tests. Requiring students to prepare for a cumulative final exam while also having to complete their regular homework assignments for other courses is, simply put, a pain in the ass. If professors and departments wish to allow this practice to continue, they should offer students the choice of taking the exam during finals week; that way, students would be able to decide for themselves whether or not they can afford to take a final during reading period.

None of these criticisms would have much merit if our reading period were longer. Given how little time we actually get throughout the quarter to go back and catch up on missed material, requiring students to give up those two days to attend class, do homework, or take tests is unacceptable and should not be allowed.

The Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Viewpoints Editors, and an additional editorial board member.