As the stress of finals week approaches, many College of Liberal Arts (CLA) students are unaware of the final exam policies in place meant to protect students and provide clarity on due dates. This exam policy, which dates back to 1994, lays out rules that professors are required to follow as they administer final exams and establish due dates for papers, and defines the rights that students have as they enter final exams.
Associate Dean of Student Success Gretchen Moon explained that it is in the best interests of students to review and know the final exams policy, as professors do administer exams and set due dates outside of the established dates in the policy.
“There are several ways in which the policy is not observed. The first of which is when a professor assigns a final paper to be due on the date of a final exam time, and holds an exam on that day as well. Papers should be due before classes are over, and final exams should be held only during finals week. We want students to be able to devote themselves to all of their remaining classes, not doing double the work for one of them during study days and finals week. The second of which is that professors cannot set due dates less than four days before the first day of final exams.”
Maria Blanco-Arnejo, professor of Spanish and one of the original authors of the final exams policy, stated that the preamble of the policy should be the most important part of the policy to students.
The preamble of the policy reads: “This policy seeks to promote effective preparation for final examinations and optimal conditions for the synthesis and assimilation of course materials by designating and safeguarding specific days at the end of the semester to be devoted exclusively to study. This policy seeks to assure that the full semester is available to complete course work by reaffirming that a semester does not end until the last day of final examinations.”
Blanco-Arnejo described a situation in which students’ lack of knowledge about the final exam policy inhibited their ability to complete coursework during finals week: “Sometimes I have students who cannot come to class during the last week of classes because they are writing a paper. In several cases, these students have believed their paper was due on a date that did not coincide with the rules of the final exam policy, as it was due too early. We need to let students know that they can approach members of the administration, especially Gretchen Moon, and take advantage of the time they are allowed to do their final coursework.”
Blanco-Arnejo also discussed the circumstances under which the final exam policy was initially written: “The final exams policy we currently adhere to was written by the CLA Academic Council, which is an elected council of faculty and members of the administration, as well as students. There are always two students who sit on the council. The need for a clear and thorough final exams policy was originally brought to the Academic Council by students. Students wanted protection and clarification during final exams. This desire is represented in the policy’s preamble.”