Verhasselt: Dead Week is a myth

Heath Verhasselt

I remember my freshman year, at the end of my first semester, wondering, “What is this Dead Week everyone is talking about?” Is there still going to be class and lecture? Is there some assignment I didn’t know about? Maybe its something more literal, is it something to do with the suicide rate because of finals? Maybe it’s how we’re all dead because of the lack of studying throughout the earlier part of the semester. The more semesters I attend at Iowa State, the more confused I become about what Dead Week really means. Because let’s be real, this has got to be one of the busiest weeks of the semester as far as assignments, exams and projects go.

Let’s take a look at what the definition of Dead Week at Iowa State actually is.

“The last week of fall and spring undergraduate classes has been designated Dead Week by the Government of the Student Body and Iowa State University. The intent is to provide students with time for review and preparation for final examinations.” OK, cool, so we can have some time to study for finals. That sounds great. I know that probably sounds like some extra time on Xbox to some, but to many those are crucial days that can help you prepare for your finals so you can earn the grade you’ve wanted the entire semester.

They go on to say about how clubs and organizations cannot hold any meetings during this week and that there’s three rules that need to be followed. They those rules: There are to be no mandatory finals, no major course assignments can be assigned during Dead Week and no major course assignments can be due during Dead Week unless they are semester long.

And that’s where they get you, semester after semester, semester-long projects create a very busy Dead Week for everyone. Now, of course, it’s on the students to study and manage their time, as it even says that in the Dead Week rules, but the question I ask is, why bother?

Why say this is a week that is dedicated to peace, quiet and studying when it’s not? Its crunch time; we’ve all put things off to the last minute and now we need to get them done.

It’s almost to the point where they could have us go to school for an extra week just so we can have an actual Dead Week. What’s interesting is how we take Dead Week so seriously at Iowa State. If you look up Dead Week on Wikipedia, we’re the first entry and the most serious one.

“At Iowa State University, Dead Week has become an official University-recognized event. Student organizations are not allowed to meet. There are 23/7 mandatory quiet hours in the student dormitories (the non-quiet, 24th hour is dubbed Rowdy Hour). Professors are advised not to give examinations and make large assignments due during the week if the examination or assignment is not on the syllabus for the class.” Whereas all of the other entries have to do with students running through their campus area naked or doing shots in the library.

And I think that’s just it. As an institution as a whole, we need to just chill out. We need a week for everyone, both faculty and students, to be relaxed and carefree as Finals Week nears. It would give professors plenty of time to tie up any loose ends there are as far as their research and classes are concerned. And it would give students more time to prepare for finals as they inch closer to their impending doom.