OPINION: Dialogue could prevent another dead week right after a break

Schedules planned out for years; discussion is only clear path to change



Students often think they can’t do anything about a bad schedule, but looking ahead of time and having discussions with ASWSU can help make changes. Now it’s too late to do anything about it.

BRUCE MULMAT, Evergreen columnist

While having dead week right after Thanksgiving break is not an ideal option for this semester, it is the only way to keep our schedule on track. This information has been available for years — all you had to do was look at the Academic Calendar.

“Typically we try to set the calendar at least six years in advance,” Becky Bitter, WSU senior assistant registrar, said. “We just passed a new academic calendar that goes until 2030.”

Even if you would want to change the timing of dead week, it would throw a wrench into the entire schedule. This would mean either having dead week later or starting school a week earlier. This would not be an acceptable choice because of travel and that students have other things happening.

“Dead week after thanksgiving is bullsh-t,” said Zach Miller, freshman political science major. “I just want this semester to end.”

Thanksgiving break is not just a week of having fun — the specter of dead week and finals looms in the back of our minds. Having dead week right after such a break isn’t ideal, but we know that the semester must finish sometime.

“Thanksgiving break is the week where I’m doing work,” Miller said. “Some people don’t go home for Thanksgiving break.”

If you’re complaining about dead week coming on the heels of Thanksgiving, it’s too late to change. However, there is a possibility of preventing this from happening again in the future.

The academic calendar is not a document that is drafted the day before, and it has been available for you to see probably since before you even started attending WSU. It goes through quite a long revision process as well.

“We put forward a draft and [took] it to a couple of committees that take it to Faculty Senate,” Bitter said. “By the time [the academic calendar] goes to the senate it’s been vetted by the academic affairs and graduate studies committees.”

With so many bodies reviewing the document, there is a chance for dates to be changed, which means that it could be possible for dead week not to come right after a week-long break in the future.

While teachers and students may complain about how it makes planning for classes more difficult, the teachers at least had a say in how the calendar was organized.

The first people to talk to about the academic calendar would be your teachers and the heads of your department or ASWSU. Admittedly, they do not have to listen to you, but if you do feel that dead week happening after a break is not a good choice, it would be a good starting point for expressing how you feel.

This doesn’t mean that scheduling can’t change in the future. If there are motivated students who want changes to the academic calendar.

However, these break times were chosen for a reason. Unless you want to be starting school earlier in August or having the semester end in the middle of December, these inconsistencies with dead week will continue.

“We can’t start too early and we can’t start too late,” Bitter said. “We’re looking for that Goldilocks zone.”

There is no silver bullet for how breaks can be fixed to give more space between them and the end of the fall semester. If you are lamenting how the end of the semester is laid out, don’t take this lying down.

There are ways to try to get the academic calendar to be changed in the future. Go to the head of your department or talk to ASWSU members to get the change you want to see enacted.

“Anything can be proposed by anyone,” Bitter said.