Fire Drill Disrupts Exams

Harvard's high-stress finals exams have twice been disrupted by fire alarms, distracting students but relieving others.

Proctors evacuated more than 250 students taking exams in Emerson Hall Monday morning after a fire alarm sounded, said Assistant Registrar Joseph D. Maruca.

And a fire alarm in William James Hall during a Social Analysis 10 exam inconvenienced about 60 students on Friday.

Broken sprinkler heads caused the alarm Monday in Emerson Hall, a Cambridge Fire Department spokesperson said yesterday.

The students in Mathematics 1a, Philosophy 19, and Physics 125 had mixed feelings about the 15-minute interruption that left them standing in the cold.

Jonathan D. Nelms '96 said the Aalarm during his Mathematics 1a exam was amajor distraction. "I was going for a perfectscore on this exam until the alarm went on. Now, Iwill get a much lower grade."

For most, though, the breakdown in Harvard'sclockwork schedule was manageable.

Jocelyn R. Grunwell '97 said the untimelyinterruption might have improved her score on herMath 1a exam. "The alarm gave me a chance toreorganize my thoughts and sort out the mathproblem I was stuck on."

Other students thought the alarm was ratherhumorous. Kyle F. Snowden '97 said, "I thought itwas kind of funny and I really needed the break."

Nancy S. Kim '97 said the students from herclass stood outside and laughed. "We thought itwas kind of ludicrous, but it woke us up."

Assistant Professor of Physics John M. Doyle,who was present at the exam, said his students didnot seem to mind the interruption.

"While the students waited outside they seemedquite cheery," Doyle said.

Other professors also minimized the negativeimpact of the alarm on their students'performance.

"There does not seem to be anything strikinglydifferent about the exams I have graded," saidEsther Silberstein, a preceptor for Mathematics1a.

Silberstein said the incident was unfortunate,but she will grade the exams as usual