When Washington, D.C. is filled with throngs of spectators on President-elect Barack Obama’s Inauguration Day, some students who want to attend won’t be able to be there. Unfortunately, these students have to take exams on January 20. While we recognize this presents a considerable inconvenience for those who wish to go, Harvard should not excuse the requirement of exams on that day. Students who are campaigning to have over 30 exams moved from that day should not expect that College to grant their wish.
If the College made accommodations for students who desire to usher in the Democratic President-elect, it would appear to be a partisan gesture. Were Senator John McCain the man of honor, would there be the same campaign to allow students to attend his inauguration and do exams through make-ups? This concession would seem a sympathetic response to those wanting to support a Democratic success. The College should not make concessions to what is essentially an ideological pilgrimage.
Moreover, the policy that deals with complaints such as these must be uniform. If exams were haphazardly shifted due to the inauguration, many other appeals to move exams might arise. Exceptions should not be made simply for students who are zealous to attend the crowning event of Barack Obama.
More specifically, the notion being tossed around that the moving of government exams has a particular salience is a futile fighting point in the campaign. Just because one is enrolled in a government class does not grant one an increased mandate to request the chance to attend this national event. There are numerous students equally as passionate about the political landscape who are not in government classes.
Furthermore, the administrative Registrar’s Office organizes the exam schedule, not the professors of the College. The subject matter being taught does not—and should not—come into play.
Certainly, it is regrettable that students will have to miss being present at Inauguration Day due to the ill-timed scheduling of final exams. Although is heartening to observe such a combination of passion and patriotism on campus, it is not right to make a concession over exam scheduling for this particular political event.