Compromise Allows Inuguration-day Exams To Start 45 Minutes Earlier To Allow Students To Watch President-elect Obama’s Swearing-in Live

At 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 20, president-elect Barack Obama will be preparing for his inauguration as the 44th President of the United States of America. At the same time, hundreds of Harvard students will be sitting down in large lecture halls readying themselves to take their fall term examinations—45 minutes earlier than expected.

The change in time of morning exams on Jan. 20—exams will begin at 8:30, not 9:15—is the result of a compromise the administration has struck with the student body so that students can watch Obama be sworn into office.

Some students said they are not pleased with the change, which was announced on Thursday.

James R. Colombe ’10 expressed annoyance at the change, which he thought was unnecessary.

“It adds a lot of pressure,” he said. “The information was given to us at a very late date. Exams are stressful enough.”

Alli Chandra ’10, another morning exam-taker, had a different take.

While she expressed irritation at having to wake up 45 minutes earlier, she also said that the change didn’t “make that much of a difference” and added that she thought it would be nice to watch the inauguration live.

The issue of inauguration-day exams has been a point of contention since Nov. 17, when the exam schedule was posted on the Registrar’s Web site. Two-thousand students have exams on Jan. 20, some of whom were planning on attending the inauguration in Washington, D.C.

Jason Y. Shah ’11 and Tanuj D. Parikh ’09 created a petition to protest the administration of exams on inauguration day, with the goal of allowing all students taking exams on the 20th an excused make-up option. The petition gathered 600 signatures.

Parikh, who has his Government 1368: “The Politics of American Education” exam on the morning of the 20th, said he is not pleased with the compromise the administration has come up with.

He called the new policy “unfair” because it required all students to wake up earlier, even if they did not care that much about the inauguration.

“It’s very frustrating because it’s just not what we asked for,” he said.

—Staff writer Sofia E. Groopman can be reached at