#tbt: Shopping Week in Peril


While you're all enjoying the next few days of shopping week, take some time to remember that just over a decade ago this treasured period of no homework and leaving classes halfway through was in grave peril. In the fall of 2002, Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby expressed a desire to replace shopping week with “preregistration.” Preregistration (which sounds a lot like “pre-term planning” and probably would have sucked even harder) would have required students to register for classes without ever having seen a lecture. And as current students know, it’s really important to take as much care as possible when selecting which classes you’ll be sleeping through all semester.

Fortunately, the Crimson Staff was on top of it and penned an op-ed in defense of shopping week. The editorial noted the importance of letting students have time to carefully sample classes to get the most out of their academic experiences. Here, we review some of the article’s most salient points:

  1. “Courses and professors, more than any other factor, define the undergraduate experience.” Maybe, but Sunday brunch is also a pretty big deal.

  2. “Preregistration would encourage professors to start teaching actual course material from day one, making it difficult for students to catch up if they join the class in the second week.” We’re pretty sure this is a veiled way of saying that it would force students to actually go to class during the first week of school. And in that case, down with preregistration!

  3. Our favorite: “Certain subject areas can mushroom in popularity after a watershed event. If students had preregistered for classes last year before Sept. 11, those tentative enrolment numbers would have drastically underestimated the demand for classes relating to the Middle East or terrorism.” Yes, in the dark and confusing post-9/11 times we’re all living in, it really is important that we remain prepared for another event-of-the-century and the effect it might have on what class we choose to fulfill Societies of the World. 

  4. “After all, it is Harvard’s great professors that drew us here to study.” That, and pressure from parents to not go to a more fun school like Stanford.
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