After being removed for the spring semester, Dead Day has officially returned this fall to the finals week schedule.
After reviewing data provided by the registrar, new provost Dr. Robert Rhodes, who began in July, made the decision to return to the previous finals week format with no changes.
“The decision was to just return to what we did,” said registrar Bart Herridge, “and come back and revisit this issue at some point and see if we could glean some good things out of what we tried.”
Although there are no definite plans yet, Herridge said the intention is to find a compromise that keeps the better parts of each schedule.
“Even the students that hated losing dead day acknowledged that there was some educational value to putting more space between classes,” he said.
The decision was based very strongly on the negative student response that flooded in after the announcement last fall. At the end of the spring semester, students filled out a survey in impressive numbers to show their disdain for the changes.
Just over 700 students responded the survey as opposed to the 468 who voted in last years Student’s Association election. Of those who responded, 60% were opposed to a Dead Day free finals week while 19% supported and 21% were neutral. While results were negative regarding the changes, 35% of students did find the new schedule helpful in performing on exam days.
Faculty responses on the issue were fairly split. Of the 110 who answered, 42% said losing dead day was not detrimental to students, 40% believed it was and 18% were neutral.
Along with their responses to the survey, students also voiced their opinion through a petition organized by Alexander Hill, junior biology major from Abilene. Hill’s petition, which he delivered directly to the registrar at the end of the spring semester, garnered 500 signatures from students seeking a return of dead day.
“I honestly did not expect to get as many signatures as I did,” said Hill. “The student response was enormous which I think contributed so much to getting dead day back.”
While Hill is glad to have the time back for studying, he is unsure if students will use the time to study or meet with professors. However, he said, there are other benefits.
“It’s a day where you can get some sleep,” said Hill. “It’s a day where you can relax and unwind before the incredibly stressful week. Even if you aren’t studying, it lets you relax and actually be able to do well on the test the next day.”
Herridge agrees that while students will “probably not” take advantage of the day from a studying aspect, it is a day that students need and want for a variety of reasons.
“There are absolutely students that are using it to study,” said Herridge. “There are also a substantial number of students who are using that as the last opportunity to get with friends.”
After a student outcry, Hill is happy to see the administration respond.
“I hope that students will use their voice,” he said. “I hope students do start expressing their opinions more. If the majority of students think that something is wrong, I think this proves that the administration will listen.”
Despite the negative response, Herridge felt there were positives to the temporary removal.
“It was absolutely worth while,” he said, “and the survey data was pretty clear about how everyone feels about it. I think it was a good educational piece for us as a university to go through and reevaluate what our purpose is for finals week.”