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Schedule Exams Before Winter Break



To the Editors of The Crimson:

After having our second winter break spoiled by looming January exams, we would like to propose a change in Harvard's schedule. The only apparent benefit in having exams after the holidays is a two-week reading period. However, if we began the school year at the end of August or the beginning of September (like most other colleges), we could take exams before break and still have one week of reading period.

A change in schedule would have quite a few advantages. First of all, Harvard students could enjoy the winter holidays. We could actually relax; we could spend time with family and friends without feeling guilty for not studying. Under the current system, we are anxious during the holidays and reading period, we sweat through our exams at the end of January and we begin the second semester after only a few days of rest--only three days if we have the last exam! If exams were completed before break, we could rest for a few weeks and be more psychologically ready for another strenuous semester.

In addition, the proposed system make it easier for students who spend spring semester studying abroad. For example, those studying in Britain for spring term must begin right after the holidays--they have to take their exams away from Harvard at the end of January. This period of anxiety prevents these students from concentrating during their first few weeks at a foreign university.

Let's face it--almost every college in the United States on the semester system has exams before winter break. This is not merely to say that we should change our schedule because everyone else has. It would be beneficial to have the same schedule as other schools for at least two reasons. Harvard students could spend time over break with friends who attend other schools. In addition, families could have vacation time together--their children who go to different schools would no longer have different breaks.

For the first couple of weeks of second semester, we will be circulating petitions in all college dining halls outlining this proposal. If enough support can be found, we hope that Dean Jewett and other administrative officials will consider making the change in schedule. Patricia A. Hutchinson '92   Shannon J. Willey '92   Co-chairs, Students for Schedule Reform

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