3/9/22 PSG, Olivia Wyrick works to set up the zoom

PSG Vice President Olivia Wyrick works to set up the zoom with Purdue President Mitch Daniels. Technical difficulties delayed the start of the meeting by ten minutes.

Thank you for the coverage of SD 20-59, “Dead Week renamed to ‘Quiet Period.’” However, we believe you missed the lede of this story.

The article seemed to imply that the main accomplishment of this legislation was the name change from “Dead Week.” It is so much more than this. Here are the three biggest contributions.

First, this legislation was initiated by students speaking up about their own mental health. Through a student survey collected by Purdue Student Government in 2020, 91% of student respondents “strongly agreed” or “agreed” that devoting time to assignments due during Dead Week increased their anxiety. The phrase “Dead Week” has never been found in official academic policy, and shouldn’t be, considering that it connotes students dying for the sake of passing the semester. Instead, through this revised policy, we reevaluate how we look at Purdue grit and grind culture and how we prioritize our mental well-being throughout our academic journeys.

Second, this bill shows that student engagement in campus government matters can improve student life. We think this shows the benefits of student engagement in government and civic life, perhaps even better than the requirements of the board of trustees’ civics literacy graduation requirement (implemented despite a negative vote of the University Senate).

Third, and perhaps most significantly, the legislation changed the academic regulations such that, for courses requiring a final exam, instructors may no longer (a) collect assignments that contribute points to students’ final grade, except for attendance, or (b) have what amounts to a final exam in Week 16 rather than in the final exam period. So this means no more huge reports due the last day of class and then a final exam. No more presentations in class in the last week and then a final exam. No more four-week exam in the last week of class, followed by a final exam. And no more “final-but-not-a-final” exam scheduled in Week 16 when it really belongs in finals week.

This isn’t about the name change. The ramifications of this policy change are huge for students’ well-being around finals week. And the vote wasn’t close — the University Senate passed it by 44-17 with two abstentions.

— Olivia Wyrick, former student body vice president 2021-22, and Alice Pawley, University Senate education policy committee vice chair 2021-22

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