Self scheduled exams at Bryn Mawr
By biconews On 22 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments


In the traditional fable of the grasshopper and the ant, one insect works industriously throughout the spring and summer months in order to prepare for the coming winter. The former insect simply fritters away his time, and when the cold weather comes, he suffers while the others are happy and well-fed. The moral here is clear, simple enough for any schoolchild to understand. So why would any highly intelligent college student act like a grasshopper?

Several weeks ago, when the news that Bryn Mawr’s system of self-scheduled exams was in danger of being discontinued, more than a few students went into semi-panic mode. The mass e-mails went out, and a large number of students turned out at the SGA meeting prepared to defend a system which so many of them apparently consider to be an integral part of academic life at Bryn Mawr.

The question remains, however, as to where these students were when hundreds of their peers showed up to take their exams and there were not enough student proctors to assist in handing them out. On the other hand, it seems a bit hasty and unfair for the registrar’s office to take such a seemingly drastic step towards abolishing a system which has been an important part of the community for 30 years. The mere threat of discontinuing self-scheduled exams is enough to make any member of the community nervous, being that exam week is already stressful as is. So who is going to continue to make this system work when all of the parties involved are pressed for time?

In all fairness, the responsibility for conducting self-scheduled exams is a dual one. Students have a responsibility to do their part in reliably proctoring exams and in being prompt in their attendance to exam sessions. Additionally, if it is determined that more undergraduate assistance is necessary for the continuation of the system of self-scheduled exams (as opposed, or in addition, to hiring graduate students or outside help) students must step up to the plate and do their part.

Just as undergraduates attend Plenary sessions each year to reaffirm their commitment to the self-governance system and the honor code, they must make a point of volunteering to proctor and then actually show up to do it in a timely fashion. However, students alone can not keep this system up and running. Professors must make a concerted effort to turn their exams in on time, and the Registrar’s office must make a point of asking for the help that is needed.

This situation must serve as a warning to students in a self-governed community that the benefits of the community of which we all partake are only as secure as we make them. Just as self-scheduled exams can exist only as long as students do their part to maintain them, self-government is best served in a community which votes intelligently and reliably, and the honor code exists only when students make a point of attending plenary and reaffirming it. We as a community must make a point of being proactive, rather than retroactive, in our defense of the institutions which we consider to be vital to the welfare of the college both in the present and for the future.

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