Reading period must be reexamined

With reading period fast approaching, I find myself forced to ask what the point of it is. In theory, a two-day break from classes gives students valuable time to prepare for mid-term exams and write mid-term papers, time that their regular, busy class schedules and extracurricular commitments do not allow them. Some might even say this extra preparation time is crucial.

Why, then, do students find themselves faced with these mid-term assignments before reading period? While one such obligation might not be impossible to manage, the coincidence of several falling amidst the chaos of the regular academic timetable can be overwhelming, and is certainly detrimental to the student’s performance. Moreover, since each student’s class schedule is different, those who find themselves with more than one midterm assignment before reading period are unfairly disadvantaged relative to those students in their classes who have only one.

Professors can have no idea what other classes their students are taking, or what the obligations of those classes are. Why are they allowed to schedule mid-term assignments before reading period? Surely it would be to everyone’s advantage (not to mention preservative of students’ sanity) to schedule all mid-terms after reading period, when students have had adequate time to prepare. No student would then be unfairly disadvantaged, while at the same time, the general quality of work would be improved.

I am not speaking here of classes that are assessed through a series of smaller exams or papers and so cannot be said to have a midterm per se. However, I urge professors to be honest about what does and does not constitute a midterm. A paper or test, falling at about this time in the semester, which constitutes a significant portion of the grade, ought to be assigned after reading period, whether it is officially deemed a midterm or not.


Ali Orme ’04