Dead Week Confusion Common Among Students


Nicole Shepler, a junior studying elementary education, has two tests next week, along with her final exams.

North Dakota State policy prohibits this, to an extent.

In 2005, student government implemented a campus-wide dead week.

It “allow(s) for only one exam or quiz to be given, per course, during the last two weeks of the semester, which includes finals week,” NDSU policy said.

Exceptions exist, however.

Make-up exams and “quizzes that account for less than 5 percent of the students (sic) overall grade” are acceptable, the policy continues.

Beyond that, students find dead week’s definition to be unclear and its use trivial.

Shepler said she sees it more as a “cramming week” than anything.

Hannah Andring, a senior majoring in English education, said she sees it as a communication problem.

“It’s just fuzzy,” Andring said of the policy. “It’s not defined well.”

The week before finals has caused strife on campus for years.

Craig Kilber was the NDSU student body president in 2005. He said student government passed the dead week bill for numerous reasons.

“The idea of Dead Week came from members of SG that were hearing from other students about the amount of tests taking place the week before finals,” Kilber wrote in a message. “Along with tests there were also projects with a due date during the same week.

“The hardest part was convincing university faculty to amend their future syllabus to allow for the Dead Week.”

Dead weeks and other pre-final preparations occur nationwide.

At the University of North Dakota, the campus has a Reading and Review Day.

The Friday before finals week, classes on campus are canceled for students to study.

At South Dakota State, however, the week before has no special implications, save final exams being prohibited.

Shepler said some professors and their “poor management” of time lead to issues during dead week.

Andring said she does not blame professors for the confusion. They should not be held accountable or penalized for breaking the rules, she said.

It was not clear what, if any, punishment professors face for breaking dead week policy. If a student thinks a professor is violating dead week policy, he or she is supposed to talk to the professor. If the professor does not address the problems, students should talk to dean of the college.

Andring placed the blame on the policy.

Shepler said it is a good concept, but if rules are not enforced, there is no point in having it.

“People see it as just another week,” Shepler said.

Andring said she would like clearer communication and sharper guidelines put in syllabi.

“We should be working toward finals (week),” she said, not adding more work.

She said she would like to see dead week evolve into a week of workshops and meetings with instructors and classmates.

One Reply to “Dead Week Confusion Common Among Students”

  1. Hi Ben,
    I am reading your article about 7 months later after it was published (I know). I am glad to see that “Dead Week” policy is still in effect. I am one of the 2 former student senators who wrote that policy and got it approved. We suffered from the same schedule conflicts as you have described in your article, over and over again. It felt so unfair that we thought we needed to do something about it and therefore we came up with that policy.

    Keep up the good work! Go Bison!

    Thank you,


Leave a Reply