Students will have new policies concerning the week before exams, commonly referred to as “dead week,” during the 2018-2019 school year.
The resolution, authored by senior Senator Benjamin Luckett, aims to lessen the amount of work students are required to complete during dead week.
Southern Miss currently has policies restricting the amount of work professors are allowed to assign before exams. According to the Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines for Student Organizations 2017-2018 manual, no campus activities can be scheduled two working days prior to the week during which final exams begin per the Dean of Students policy.
The Southern Miss Institutional Policies website also states, “Relief days, known as ‘dead days,’ have been designated at the end of the semester and before final exams.” The policy goes on to state “No test shall be given Thursday or Friday before final exams.” This does not include projects or papers that would be completed outside of class, and exceptions are made for labs or classes that meet once a week.
The policy was implemented in 2013 and was due for review last fall. Luckett picked up the legislation and worked with Vice Provost Dr. Amy Miller to improve and renew the legislation.
“The resolution aims to reinstate a dead week or relief day policy for students,” Luckett said. “Class will still be going on, but teachers cannot assign things that week unless it has already been stated in the syllabus. There are some exceptions for 8-week courses, labs, and classes that meet once a week; but those classes must file those exceptions through the office of the provost.”
New material can still be covered during this time. However, papers or projects that were not originally scheduled to be due during dead week can be protested if rescheduled to this time.
Luckett praised Miller for keeping student welfare at the heart of the resolution.
“I wrote the resolution and sent it to Dr. Miller to be tweaked. She changed the language so that it would be more clear. I had put in ‘exceptions will be made’ for 8-week classes, labs, and the sort whereas she put in ‘requests for these exceptions will be accepted through the office of academic affairs.’ She really has a mind towards helping students so anything she added or fixed was definitely a great addition to [the bill],” Luckett said.
Luckett said that there is only so much that SGA and the Southern Miss administration can do without student feedback.
“If we don’t know about it, we can’t help enforce it. Communication has to be key to making this policy work.”
Senior English major Jamill Garry believes the policy will be beneficial to her as she has experienced an over loaded dead week herself. “Professors issue late notice assignments without considering all the other courses and assignments you have, and this causes students to become more stressed out and even have anxiety.”
Students aren’t the only ones who could benefit from this policy though. “I feel like [the policy] is useful because it allows teachers to get last minute grading done, and it allows students to meditate on the semester as a whole and focus on upcoming tests,” junior marketing major Evelyn Lawson said.
If a student is concerned a professor is not following the policy, they should first talk to the teacher. If students still have concerns, they should meet with the department chair, followed by the Dean of the college, Miller, and finally university president Dr. Rodney Bennett.
Support for the bill has been overwhelmingly positive. It passed in the Senate with a vote of 29 yay and 1 present on Feb. 22 and has been signed by SGA President Cameron Cloud.
“Many students view dead week as ‘you die that week because you have so much work,’ but really it should be dead week because there is no work.” Luckett said.
The resolution awaits to be signed by Bennett and will go into effect next fall.