Exam Moved for Inauguration

For students in Government 1540: “The American Presidency,” final exam scheduling, rather than just ticket scarcity, was set to be a major hindrance in their ability to watch the 2009 Presidential inauguration.

After the ironic scheduling conflict became the subject of student protest, course Professor Roger Porter announced yesterday that the exam had been moved from January 20 to January 13.

Elyse M. Schoenfeld ’09, a student in the class, said that she met with Porter two weeks ago to discuss the conflict between the exam date and the inauguration.

According to Schoenfeld, Porter asked the class’s head teaching fellow to appeal to the Registrar’s office to resolve the issue. The Registrar is in charge of setting exam dates, which are based on the time a class takes place.

Because “The American Presidency” runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., it falls into two exam groups. The change in date was a function of placing the class in the 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. exam group instead of the 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. exam group, where it was initially.

Schoenfeld said she was “thrilled” when she heard of the change. Other students expressed similar sentiment.

“I was very excited that I was going to have a chance to see the inauguration live, since we were studying the election so closely in class,” said Doris A. Hernandez ’09.

Schoenfeld did remark however, that some students in the class seemed “upset” upon hearing the news and that there was some “grumbling.”

“I know some people who have exam conflicts now,” said Ivana Djak ‘11. “I think it would have made more sense to move the exam to an earlier time so we could have gotten out in time for the inauguration.”

This change in exam date came as part of a larger movement on campus by students who want to be able to take make-up exams for those exams that conflict with the inauguration. Over 2000 students face the situation.

“I am pleased to hear that the American Presidency exam has been moved, but this change is not nearly sufficient,” said Jason Y. Shah ’11, one of the leaders of the protest effort regarding the schedule. “The goal is to permit civic participation for the entire Harvard undergraduate population, which extends far beyond the students in that class.”

Shah is a student in Government 1368: “The Politics of American Education,” one of the almost 40 classes affected, and he said he has not heard any more about the possibility of changing his exam date for that class since his head teaching fellow forwarded the students an e-mail from the Registrar stating, “FAS will be holding exams as scheduled.”

“If only the American Presidency exam is changed, I will consider the administration’s support for undergraduate civic participation just as inadequate and prohibitive as I, and many students, did before,” said Shah. “The only difference now is that we have avoided a remarkable irony.”