Respect Students, Adhere to Finals Policy

Study days are meant to be an undisturbed time for students to prepare for finals. However, some Georgetown University professors disrupt this time by violating the university’s finals policy. Under the Office of the University Registrar’s current policy, the university designates two to three days after the conclusion of classes as study days. Any final assessments must be due after this period, leaving students with a brief reprieve from handing in assignments. Because of the nature of the policy, professors are largely responsible for enforcing the requirements. Instead, some choose instead to skirt them. However, Georgetown professors must adhere to university policy and assign final assessments or exams only during the final examination period. Registrar guidelines stipulate that professors must assign final assessments and exams only according to the registrar’s schedule for final exams. Still, professors often require final assessments prior to the registrar’s scheduled date, according to Abby Ulman (SFS ’19)  and Dylan McCarthy (SFS ’19). “In my women and gender studies class, my final is a 10-to-12 page synthesis paper, but my professor moved the due date up four days to the beginning of finals,” Ulman said in an interview with The Hoya. “I’m stressing out.” Professors assign not only final papers on dates earlier than their designated final exam date, but also sit-down exams. According to the registrar’s guidelines, however, cumulative assessments cannot take place during the last week of classes McCarthy had a cumulative final exam in his “Analytical Tools for Political Economy” class while classes were still in session Dec. 6. In some cases, professors spontaneously decide to change the date of the final, as with Ulman’s final paper. Impulsively changing the final date reduces student time to study and may decrease students’ GPAs. In other instances, professors convey their decision to change the date of the final on their syllabus. Although students are aware of this change at the beginning of the semester, it still marks a violation of the registrar’s policy. Professors are required to submit syllabi to their academic department for review at the beginning of the semester. For syllabi that blatantly ignore the guidelines, Georgetown should enforce its own policy and require a review of the dates. Unaware of the finals policy, Arienne Thompson, an adjunct professor in the journalism department, scheduled her final project to be due on the first study day this semester. Although the date on her syllabus violated university policy, the department approved her schedule,  Thompson said in an interview with The Hoya. It was not until this week that faculty reached out to her about the conflict. But by then, it was too late for Thompson to change the date. Georgetown professors must adhere to the university’s finals policy to reduce — rather than exacerbate — student anxiety in an already-stressful period. Professors often claim they are doing students a favor by violating the policy: By scheduling exams during study days, they are spreading finals out and thus decreasing student stress. When other professors have the same idea, however, students may face several papers and exams during study days, decreasing their time to prepare without academic distractions. Furthermore, professors may also assign papers and exams earlier in order to give themselves more time to grade. Ulman’s professor changed the paper’s due date to the beginning of the finals period because she was worried she would not have enough time to grade them, Ulman said in an interview with The Hoya. Still, if students are expected to abide by academic expectations and schedules set by the registrars, professors should hold themselves to a similar standard; grading is not an excuse for breaking university policy. Professors can claim these excuses; however, changing the finals date still constitutes a blatant violation of university policy. Though some may benefit from this change, this infringement upon study days will ultimately increase student stress and impact students’ GPAs. Georgetown instituted a finals policy to protect students; professors cannot continue to ignore the university’s finals policy and harm student well-being. The Hoya’s editorial board is composed of six students and is chaired by the Opinion Editor. Editorials reflect only the beliefs of a majority of the board and are not representative of The Hoya or any individual member of the board.

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