Suggesting a move that would drastically alter the shape of Harvard's calendar and break with a 350-year-old tradition, two sophomores have formed a new group called Students for Schedule Reform (SSR), in the hopes of moving the fall exam period to be before the winter break.
The founders of the committee--Patricia A. Hutchinson '92 and Shannon J. Willey '92--have suggested that the fall semester should start earlier in the year and that the reading period be reduced from two weeks to one, so that students can go home for the holidays without having the fear of exams hanging over their heads.
Harvard students should be able to "spend time with family and friends without feeling guilty for not studying," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson and Willey said that besides having work to do over the holiday, another problem with the present system is that many students who have a short intersession--sometimes only three days long--are still mentally drained when they begin of their second semester in February.
"Intersession just isn't a long enough break," Willey said.
SSR has not yet discussed the proposal with administrators because it hopes to first build a strong base of support among students, Willey said. She said the group will petition in dining halls over the next few weeks in order to rally student support for the proposition.
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences considered changing the exam schedule several years ago. But the Faculty was divided over the question, and thus decided to maintain the traditional system.
Harvard and Princeton are among the last few schools to steadfastly adhere to the traditional calendar, which has been replaced in almost all other schools by the early semester.
Every other Ivy League school has exams before the end of the year, and some have winter breaks as long as three or four weeks.
When asked why Princeton still tenaciously observes the traditional system, registrar of the university C. Anthony Broh quipped, "because Harvard does."
On a more serious note, Broh said that the main reason for keeping with the traditional calender is that Princeton dorms are not air-conditioned. He said that if Princeton had early exams, the year would have to begin in the dog days of August, making for a most uncomfortable study environment.