Hanton: Workloads during Dead Week are mind-bending


Graphic: Rebekka Brown/Iowa State Daily

Dead Week is not a time to lounge

Rick Hanton

We’ve hit the end of the fateful prelude to finals: Dead Week. I’m sure some students are given only a few normal assignments to accomplish during Dead Week and are able to spend the majority of their time studying their notes and textbooks. If I just described your week, I envy you.

My schedule for Dead Week involves finishing one major class project, giving two presentations, completing one major homework assignment, a quiz, a paper and two multi-hour labs; and I only have a light load of four classes. That’s not to mention keeping up with the nonprofit group I help run and helping an engineering team preparing a robot for a competition in a month. If this sounds more like your week, I feel your pain.

Dead Week is definitely not a time of rest and study for me and it has seldom been so during my five years at Iowa State.

Instead, it tends to be the week when most professors realize the semester is ending and they need to cram in the rest of the information and activities they haven’t yet covered during the semester. In some respects I even feel lucky this semester, because I don’t have any tests during Dead Week; I’ve talked to friends with more than one test in a single day.

Will Dead Week ever give us a break before finals?

Notably, all my professors are completely in compliance with the university’s Dead Week policy. None of them are giving me a final examination, I haven’t been assigned any major course assignments during Dead Week, and the few projects I am finishing were supposed to be finished last week but were pushed back by student request. Still, I feel like I need a detailed schedule to get everything done, allocating every hour and minute of this week’s five 18-hour-plus days.

The gurus at Wikipedia warn us that Dead Week tends to bring sleep deprivation, irritability and stress. So maybe it is simply the stress of the week pushing me to write this column, but perhaps a professor or two will read the Daily and remember to keep students in mind as they plan future Dead Weeks.

It was exciting to see that Wikipedia has an amazing rundown of Dead Week traditions at many American universities, with Iowa State proudly at the top of the list. Perhaps we could learn something from other schools and initiate a “primal scream” during Rowdy Hour or mass streaking for stress-release one of these years.

I must commend the university administration and the Government of the Student Body for making Dead Week “official” over a number of years, but there seems to always be a few major violations or other ways professors can still inundate us with work.

To the professors out there, please keep doing your best to give your students a breather and, if you can, help us by reviewing your course prior to Dead Week to help those with time to study. Soon, soon, it will all work out and we will reach summer.

Until then, I urge my fellow students to keep up the good fight and not be held back by the craziness of Dead Week. Study hard, and good luck on finals.