Midterms Thwart Housing Day Joy

Professors maintain midterm examinations despite Housing Day festivities

While much of the student body revels in Housing Day celebrations on Thursday, some students will sit out the festivities, stuck in classrooms racking their brains during a midterm. Many students said they feel that having these tests interferes with their ability to soak up the spectacle of Housing Day.

“I think it’s unfair because it’s stressful to take a midterm on Housing Day and I don’t really get a chance to celebrate Housing Day and be excited about my new House,” said Jenny S. Shi ’15, who has a midterm on Thursday.

For some, having a midterm encroaches not only on Thursday’s celebrations, but on Wednesday night traditions as well.

“I’m not doing River Run so I can study and get some sleep,” said Louise E. Decoppet ’15. “I have a midterm at 9 a.m., so I don’t even know if I’ll get my House assignment.”

Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris said he sympathizes with students who feel they are missing out on Housing Day fun, but that school must always come first.

“As a former House Master I am well aware of how special Housing Day is for students, and how important it can be to building community in the Houses,” Harris wrote in an email. “But, as with all social activities, Housing Day festivities must take a back seat to academics.”

Government professor Ryan D. Enos, whose course Government 1372: “Political Psychology” has a midterm on Thursday, said he felt that there was no reason Housing Day should not be a day of instruction like other school days.

“By indicating that a midterm should not be given on Housing Day, you are asking ‘why are you forcing students to show up to class and take a midterm?’ meaning otherwise they wouldn’t come to class,” he wrote in an email to The Crimson. “If Housing Day is going to be treated as a holiday, then we should make it a holiday, otherwise we have to keep learning and teaching on the days that have been scheduled.”

Still, some students say they refuse to let a midterm keep them from carrying on the tradition of reveling at River Houses the night before finding out their Housing fate.

“I’m not drinking, but other kids will be hung over tomorrow because they’re going to participate in River Run no matter what,” said Kiko A. Porte ’15.

Some students said they wondered why Housing Day coincided with one of the busiest paper and midterm weeks of the semester.

According to Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67, Housing Day was originally scheduled for the week before spring break to distance it from the date later in the semester that freshman used to have to declare their concentrations. The administration, according to Dingman, was trying to avoid having two such important emotional stressors so close to each other.

But though concentration declarations shifted to sophomore fall several years ago, the timing of Housing Day has remained in the mid-spring due to tradition.

Romance Languages and Literatures Senior Preceptor Elvira G. DiFabio said she wished Housing Day had been noted on the academic calendar early on, so she could have avoided scheduling a test that day.

“I didn’t know about it at the beginning of the year, and when I found out about it a few days ago, it was too late to change,” she said.

Some other professors and teaching fellows have been sympathetic to students who are heavily involved in House events on Thursday—for example, Winthrop House Committee Co-Chair Marissa C. Friedman ’14  was able to take a French exam earlier in the week so she could help run Housing Day.

Since matters are out of their hands both in terms of Housing results and midterm dates, many freshmen said they are just going to roll with the punches.

“I think it’s inconvenient, but at the same time, I’m just going to deal with it, because shit happens,” said Jalem D. Towler ’15.

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