Dead Week Turns 10, Still Somewhat Unclear

Despite four years at North Dakota State, Danny Nguyen said he still doesn’t quite know what Dead Week is.

The senior in accounting said he thinks dead week is when teachers cannot give students cumulative exams, while senior Connor Teske, an exercise science major, said he thinks there’s a limit on the number of tests a teacher can give.

“I might be wrong,” he added.

Dead week, a policy turning 10 years old next semester, is not widely understood by students or teachers, Teske and Mikayla Young, executive commissioner of the congress of student organizations, said.

“As a student, it is our responsibility to be informed and updated,” Young said.


Dead week, as university policy says, allows “for only one exam or quiz to be given, per course, during the last two weeks of the semester, which includes finals week.”

Exceptions to the rule include summer classes, correspondence courses, make-up exams, courses with a lab-integrated lecture, one-credit courses, block-taught courses and quizzes accounting for less than 5 percent of students’ overall grades.

“If a professor chooses to give an exam during the last week of classes, she/he must make some instructional use of the final examination time as required by policy of the State Board of Higher Education,” the policy, approved on Valentine’s Day 2005, says. 

The policy became effective for the fall 2005 semester following the university senate’s approval on the recommendation of student senate.

Student government

Young said dead week has changed at NDSU since the years before 2005.

“Dead week was a time when there was simply no classes at all and no tests … and that would be a time to study for your finals week,” she said.

She added many universities have its own form of dead week, and it seems every student and department interprets NDSU’s policy differently.

“If you go according to what the university states and what the policy has, that should always be followed,” she said.

Student government looked into the dead week policy last year and made efforts to raise awareness about its true definition.

Young said student government would like to see teachers include the dead week policy on their syllabi for student awareness, “whether they read it or not.”

“That would just create that transparency,” Young said. “‘Here’s the policy. Follow it.'”

No changes or updates have been made to dead week’s policy since its approval, Young said.

The term “dead week,” meanwhile has a certain connotation that Young said can imply no schoolwork. After all, in the pre-policy years, that was what Dead Week was at NDSU, she said.

“It’s really not a dead week. In the past … campus was pretty much dead,” Young said. “That’s another simple change that could possibly be made … This policy isn’t a dead week. There’s still things happening, and still things going on.”

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