Spring quarter seems to elicit a stifling set of canned interactions near its finish. We talk about our summer plans, remark on how shockingly fast the quarter has gone, ask seniors how it feels to be leaving, do our best to have a fling or two, and then, inevitably, lament the period that threatens to darken every drop of sunlight we enjoy: Dead Week.
Stanford students reserve a special place in their groaning repertoires for Dead Week, and this spring’s version promises not to disappoint. Those hoping for a respite from the typical stress mentioned above can take comfort in the fact that this “week” makes even less sense than usual: one holiday, two packed days of class, one study day, and then exams starting on Friday. We might as well be members of the Amondawa, an Amazonian tribe that according to American and Brazilian researchers possesses no abstract concept of time.
One would think that, under the circumstances, we might get a break for those two little class days so that we could concentrate on our finals. However, Dead Week is so prevalent in our study culture that the Registrar has developed specific policies to standardize its mayhem. Although such standard operating procedures might help during most quarters, they have now crafted an environment of insanity. According to the Registrar Office’s End-Quarter Policy Statement, which addresses the last week before finals, “Major papers or projects about which the student has had reasonable notice may be called due in the End-Quarter Period.” This means that, as is my case, one can have a major paper due on Tuesday and then a final term paper due on Friday in the midst of preparing for exams on the following Tuesday and Wednesday.
No matter how “reasonable” the notice I receive happens to be, this situation is a classic example of an organizational process model revealing its human flaws. Other students may face much more daunting tasks than I, and there is little they can do about it other than complain to the Registrar’s Office, which is famous for dragging its feet in any official academic complaint. One could argue that a sensible student would have planned ahead for the crunch time. I would respond that I planned to the extent that I could, as I would in any other quarter. Unfortunately, this quarter gave me less time to do the same amount of classwork, along with an uptick in non-academic work as I sought, among other things, to secure a job for the summer. The most I could do was plan to be stressed.
So, instead of Dead Week, we now have a Dead Week time-lapse, complete with a new energy drink called “eVolv.” At least the primal scream will sound the same. Although I normally opt for the stoic approach, I may even participate this year, especially if some partially deaf aficionado of electronic music sits across from me in the library with erratic beats emanating from his or her earbuds. If we are loud enough, perhaps someone at the Registrar’s Office will notice.