Despite Binghamton University’s policy prohibiting final exams during the last week of classes, professors continue to administer them.
The official University policy in the Faculty-Staff Handbook states that “students shall not be required to take examinations or turn in take-home finals during the week preceding the official Final Examination Period.” The Editorial Board discussed this issue about a year ago, and nothing has been done to address infringements of the rule. Though it is possible for professors to apply for an exemption from the policy, it is unclear how many actually do so.
Additionally, because the restriction specifies exams and take-home finals, professors are able to get around this rule by assigning final papers and projects instead. Furthermore, some professors circumvent this policy by making their final exams, projects or papers due the Thursday or Friday before the last week of classes. The Editorial Board feels that final papers and projects require the same time and effort outside of class as take-home finals, and thus should be covered under the policy.
When the Editorial Board reached out to Harpur College Dean Elizabeth Chilton, she stated that professors are aware of the policy, and that she has not been notified by students of any faculty members in violation of it. Whether professors actually know about the policy or not, the effects are invariably felt by students. It should not be the responsibility of students to ensure that their professors are following this rule, nor should it fall on students to report infractions to deans or department heads. In fact, some students may be hesitant to do so out of apprehension that reporting professors may negatively impact their grades.
It is obvious that professors are not breaching the University rule just to make the last few weeks of classes more difficult for students. Perhaps professors are trying to give themselves more time to grade assignments. Though we agree that professors should grade in a timely manner, the solution should not be to cram final assignments in at the end of the semester. If this is the case, the University should instead allow faculty members more time to get their final marks in. This way, both students and faculty are given sufficient time to complete their responsibilities for the semester.
We recognize the importance of final assessments, but there must be a better way to administer them. Students are spread too thin within the current system, especially considering that some students have both a final assignment due in class and a final exam during finals week. It is difficult to effectively study for a final exam when you have other assignments due a few days before, particularly because this semester, there are no reading days outside of the weekend between the last week of classes and finals week.
The Editorial Board believes that when the University sets policies, they should enforce them. Professors should be cognizant of the workload students have and make an effort to comply with rules that are intended to alleviate this burden.