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During Housing Day Festivities, Some Students Sit for Midterms

By Trevor J. Levin, Contributing Writer

While most undergraduates will be able to participate fully in Thursday's Housing Day, several popular classes have scheduled midterms during the festivities, putting a damper on some students’ plans.

Housing Day, a time when Harvard’s 12 upperclassman Houses welcome freshmen for a full day of fanfare, has long coincided with the peak of “midterm season,” since it comes at the middle of the semester and immediately before spring break.

Scott Ely ’18, chair of the Undergraduate Council’s Education Committee, criticized the practice of scheduling midterms on the eventful day.

“For a long time, the UC has been strongly in opposition to midterms on Housing Day,” he said. “We realize that this is a reality, but over time, we’ve seen the number [of midterms] decrease.”

Ely said Housing Day midterms are a chief target of the UC’s mission to reduce academic stress.

“This is a perfect example of how an inopportune placement of a midterm, test, or assignment can hurt the mental health of students here on campus,” he said.

Students with midterms scheduled on Housing Day expressed frustration at the conflict.

“I understand that I have to be tested on the material at some point, although I wish it was a different day, obviously,” said Billy A. Schmitt ’19, who will take midterms for Computer Science 51: “Introduction to Computer Science II” and Science of Living Systems 20: “Psychological Science,” both in the afternoon.

Schmitt’s instructor in SLS 20, Psychology professor Steven Pinker, has previously told The Crimson that the Thursday before spring break is “the logical time for an exam” and that “academic coursework is the raison d’etre of a university, and has to come first.”

Schmitt anticipates that the midterms will significantly affect his Housing Day experience.

“I’m planning on waking up early, going to my blockmates’ room, finding out, and then going back for some last-minute studying,” he said.

Schmitt also expressed concerns that his midterms will not only affect his own Housing Day.

“It sort of takes away the fun for my blockmates, [if] not all of us are there, and for my roommates as well,” he said. “If they want to have fun tonight, it’s a little bit of a buzzkill for me to be like, ‘Sorry, gotta go to bed early, can you turn the music down?’”

Some students were less upset.

“I’m not especially disappointed,” said Eli H. Davey ’17, who will take midterms for Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning 13: “Analyzing Politics” and Chinese 120b: “Intermediate Modern Chinese,” both in the morning.

“It’s one less chance to get smashed at 5 a.m.”

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