Blue the Man Down

There is an old Massachusetts Blue Law that a man may not kiss his wife on Sunday. Equally absurd, but somewhat less hilarious, is a forty-year-old ruling of the Harvard Administrative Board that rigidly pegs the dates for Spring and Summer term make-ups squarely in the center of the October hour exam period. An inflexible examination schedule that could conceivably force a man to take a three-hour final and two hour exams in one day not only places an undue strain on the student, but also leads to unsatisfactory grades in both testing groups. Only those undergraduates who were ill or legitimately excused during the original examination period are eligible for re-takes; they should not be victimized by University inertia.

Justifying the use of an imperfect system by the assumption that students did not object to the burden of finals with hour exams, the Administration never suspected a malfunction in the ancient plan. The early weeks in October were charted as a period of student adjustment to new courses and any scheduling of make-ups after hour exams appeared academically unsound. However, an informative sample of the eighty-nine men listed for re-examination this term indicates great dissatisfaction with the present system and vividly points up the need for a more equitable testing policy. Unanimously opposed to the current program, students would respond to any scheme that could relax the intense pressure of a double examination schedule. An arrangement to run future tests during the week of October 15th would insure adequate time to prepare for hour exams and also come sufficiently early in the term to preserve the remnants of summer tutoring. If it becomes impossible to schedule make-ups before the last week in October, over seventy percent of the men quizzed indicated a willingness to come during the summer or take an examination just before the fall term registration.

Since a complete list of those men eligible for make-up exams reaches the Dean's Office by July, an acceptable plan should not grind to a standstill in the monster gears of University Hall. Technical difficulties such as allotting classrooms, giving students adequate time for study, and obtaining examinations from instructors are admittedly surmountable. Once the pressing need and desire for a more suitable system becomes evident, a revised examination schedule seems easily attainable. The life of an anachronism does not necessarily begin at forty.