Monday, March 15, 2010

On Asking Professors to Move Up Exam Dates

So, you're in a class where the last few weeks of class are canceled. You've had your outline prepared since week five and boy oh boy, wouldn't it be great if you could just take the exam a few weeks early? Gee, it would be swell, wouldn't it. Why don't I just raise my hand and ask my professor to move the date up?

If this is you, please don't do it.

Moving up an exam, a few weeks before said exam would take place, is not fair to your classmates. Every class should have a syllabus. The syllabus should be distributed at the beginning of the semester and it should set the expectations for when exams will take place. If the syllabus does not list any exam times, it has to be assumed, 10 weeks into the semester, that the exam will take place at the scheduled time, not a few weeks ahead of time.

Setting aside the fact that it isn't fair to anyone who has scheduled (or not scheduled, as the case may be) their studying to coincide with the exam taking place on the actual scheduled exam date, you look like a huge fucking gunner.

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53 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

People do this? Are you sure it was a real student and not some soulless robotic automoton?

3/15/2010 4:10 PM  
Blogger Varty said...

ahaha liveblogging from Ch*per's con law?

3/15/2010 4:11 PM  
Blogger Carbolic said...

If it's any consolation, I really doubt that the professor would be permitted to make a substantial last-minute change to the exam date.

3/15/2010 4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also - asking for an open vote is complete bullshit, especially after you take one vote and the students clearly do not want to move the exam up.

3/15/2010 4:39 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Who does this? And can we make this a violation of the honor code? I mean, how is this less worse than stealing books from the library?

3/15/2010 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Donna Petrine (no, I won't use asterisks, since she's a professor) announced a midterm a week before she gave it last year. It sucked.

3/15/2010 4:52 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

This is sort of akin to.... you know what, I tried like three metaphors there before I could find ANYTHING egregious enough to compare to this. I have to declare it unmetaphorable. It's that bad. What a poohead!

3/15/2010 5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here’s a more accurate version of the facts: Ch*per only schedules 40 classes per semester, meaning that the last class will be on April 12th – over two weeks before classes officially end. We will be having our review sessions right away, not only before study period begins but also before classes officially end. Ch*per suggested (I want to stress this point – no student asked Ch*per to move up the exam date) that if enough people wanted him to, he would administer the in-class portion of the exam during study week instead of on the assigned exam date (which is May 10th, the second-to-last day of exams). So this would not be a “few weeks ahead of time,” and it would be well after the class had ended and after two review sessions.

In terms of this suggestion not being in the syllabus, Ch*per discussed this possibility at the very beginning of the semester when he explained how we would only have 40 classes and he mentioned that we would vote on it later. I voted in favor of it not because I am “a huge fucking gunner,” but because I would rather get this class out of the way before study week and finals begin, and because I don’t want to stick around until close to the end of exam period to take an exam for a class that I haven’t had in 4 weeks. I have no outline prepared and my main aspiration is not to sub-P this class. Maybe James is the “huge fucking gunner” because apparently he wants to spend every minute between the end of class and May 10th studying for con law. Regardless, this was Ch*per’s suggestion, not a student’s, and I think it was totally reasonable. Plus he is not forcing it on students, but took a vote. Chill out James.

3/15/2010 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. It takes guts to be that openly self-centered. It's kind of like raising your hand in church and asking them to make services a little earlier because you have brunch plans on Sunday.

Hello, world? I'm right here. Please revolve around me.

3/15/2010 5:39 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Maybe James is the “huge fucking gunner” because apparently he wants to spend every minute between the end of class and May 10th studying for con law

OK this made me laugh. Yes, procrastination is the new gunner.

3/15/2010 5:50 PM  
Blogger James said...

A student did bring it up. He is talking about splitting up the exam so that there would still be a component on the 10th. As someone who doesn't want to sub-p I understand how you feel, but unexpectedly having less time to make sure you don't sub p surely isn't the answer.

And it was gunner-like.

3/15/2010 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely agree with 5:38. Taking the exam early is the *anti*gunner thing to do because it just helps get an exam out of the way. And it certainly doesn't put any students at a disadvantage because every student will still have the exact same amount of time to study. Taking both the in-class exam and the take-home exam during finals week sounds horrifying. That's why we voted against that. And for James to make this big a deal out of this is self-righteous indignation at its worst. Get over yourself, buddy.

3/15/2010 6:35 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

6:35, you're wrong. Next.

3/15/2010 6:37 PM  
Blogger Varty said...

Actually, it does put a significant number of students at a disadvantage, particularly those in skills class (e.g., pre-trial civil lit, patent lit, depos). Most of these classes have big final assignments due right before finals period, which happens to coincide exactly with when the new proposed final date would be. So bumping up a final, when a student registered in this class, expecting the final to be during final exams, rather than at the same time as their other final project/assignment/etc pretty much sucks. Plus, seeing how a majority of your class is against moving up the date (given the unofficial vote today), voting tomorrow to bump up the exam is a pretty ridiculous move.

3/15/2010 7:13 PM  
OpenID idwsj said...

People actually do this? I can hardly fathom.

3/15/2010 9:18 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

James is a gunner at procrastination. There, I said it.

3/15/2010 9:19 PM  
Blogger Lily said...

I have never met anyone who is more of a gunner than James. Someone please make him stop.

3/15/2010 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got a sub-P in Ch*per's con law. Someone else got one that semester, too. Moral of the story: if you didn't go to class all semester, read the syllabus so you know whether or not he covered state participation in a market. Otherwise, it will lead to an awkward conversation in his office afterward...

3/15/2010 9:57 PM  
Blogger Bekki said...

I just have one question:

If you're putting together something for a client, be it a memo, a deal, a presentation, and she asks you to move up the date because that would be more convenient for her... are you going to call her a f*cking gunner, too?

3/15/2010 10:36 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Analogy fail.

3/15/2010 10:37 PM  
Blogger Toney said...

Bekki, I don't know that that analogy directly applies. At least in my case. That's a very gunnerish thing to do at school. At work, however, if a client asked me to grab my ankles, I'd at least think twice before saying no in a faux-hesitant manner.

3/15/2010 10:39 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

Bekki, there isn't much from law school that's transferable to the working world. Just the comparison of the artificial world of exams to client deliverables should give you pause. If there is anything that is transferable it's your ability to work well with those around you. I'm not passing judgment on anyone here. I'm just pointing out that the real world value of collegiality is far greater than how quickly someone can put together a color-coded, word-indexed, tabbed outline for JC.

3/15/2010 10:43 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/15/2010 10:44 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/15/2010 10:44 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Yeah. This is like if you had a trial coming up, that you weren't quite prepared for and you knew the date was four weeks out. Then another low-level associate in the firm comes up to you and asks you to ask the judge to reschedule the trial two weeks sooner for some reason. (Let's assume, for the purpose of argument, that judges do this.) In this case, it'd be appropriate to call that other associate a gunner. Or, rather, you'd probably call him a prick. But same difference.

3/15/2010 10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have several clients that are gunners. The judge sets the deadline and then they move it up two weeks when they ask for a draft. This applies even if the judge randomly sets a deadline that is less than two weeks out. Some how this is my fault. :(

3/15/2010 11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to Varty's comment... um, and it puts students who have all their exams during finals week at a disadvantage not to do it earlier. The point is, either way, some students will be at a disadvantage. And I'm willing to bet there are more students who have all their exams during busy finals week than those who have huge projects due on April 29th.

3/16/2010 12:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The big difference is that you/they knew that going in.

Plus, despite the fact that there are more people with more finals, the majority of the class still wanted to take the class during finals period.

3/16/2010 12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I have no problem with that. They won the vote, so we'll all take the exam on May 10th. I only take issue with 1) the idea that this wasn't known by everyone going in (when Ch*per said on Day 1 we'd have the option to take it earlier than finals), and 2) the premise of this whole post by James, which is that the students who voted to take it earlier are somehow gunners/inconsiderate of others/otherwise dumb for voting the way they did.

3/16/2010 12:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, but they didn't win the vote. Despite a clear majority, the professor decided to take an "official vote" another day. So the vote hasn't been taken yet.

Additionally, students who take all their finals during finals week are not at a disadvantage -- they're simply on an even playing field with the rest of the school taking finals during finals week (novel concept). Another anonymous poster even acknowledged this, saying that the majority of students have all their finals during finals week. If you'd like to get all your studying out of the way before May begins, knock yourself out. But don't bring the rest of the class along on that plan, when they likely made study plans contingent on taking the final when it is actually scheduled.

3/16/2010 8:44 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Seems like Ch*per might be at fault for not having a clear exam date from the get-go. That's not something you mess around with or vote on.

3/16/2010 9:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that the gunners don't understand why pushing up an exam to an unscheduled date is shitty is what really saddens me.

3/16/2010 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

three simple rules about exams.

1. on the first day, orally announce the exam date and type.

2. on the first day, publish in writing the exam date and type.

3. never change the rules after that.

3/16/2010 10:31 AM  
Blogger CWeb said...

As a student in that class who has played crosswords the last 3 weeks but voted for the earlier date, I'm going to throw it out there that the issue with dates is not one of gunner/slacker (I also was under the impression that the earlier date was Ch*per's idea, not a student's).

In my experience before law school, when a professor offers to move up the exam/final paper date before finals so the class is finished earlier, people protest it, and bitch and moan about it if the prof goes through with it. But they usually appreciate being done earlier in the end, which is why I cast my vote the way I did. Only in law school when people are looking over their shoulders regarding grades do we throw around words like "gunner" to describe someone who takes the other position.

3/16/2010 10:57 AM  
Blogger Bekki said...

Armen - exactly.

Preparing students to handle the arbitrariness and unpredictability of deadlines is one of the many things that law school fails to do well, or at all, for that matter.

I get that moving exams up can be a problematic for some people - but as Toney said, sometimes you just have to bend over, grab your ankles, and say thank you.

Better to learn to do it in the law school environment, where a sub-P gets you a nice conversation in Choper's office.

3/16/2010 11:13 AM  
Blogger James said...

So, wait, is this really your argument, Bekki? - We grant that it is lame and arbitrary to move the exam up this far into the semester. But, we also think everyone needs to learn the "lesson" of life being lame and/or arbitrary. So, because we want to act selfishly and everyone needs to learn this "lesson," we're going to continue to push for the exam to be moved up.

If that's not gunner logic, I don't know what is. This is not an arbitrary move up. This is a group of students pushing to change a class schedule in a manner that is so late in the semester that fellow students have said their lives would be made a lot harder. Do you really think it's appropriate to tell these students that you're going to teach them the lesson of how "arbitrary" the world is simply because it's more convenient for you to move the exam up?

CWeb, your points are valid, but some of us don't want to have the sub-p convo with Choper and would like the time we thought we'd have at the beginning of the semester.

3/16/2010 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CWeb,

Nice try. I've seen your crossword puzzles. They are all constitutionally themed. When you're penciling in strict scrutiny as an answer, you can't pretend that you're anything but a gunner.

3/16/2010 11:25 AM  
Blogger Armen said...

You really don't see how the analogy is completely off the mark? For starters the advocates of the new deadline are on the same playing field as those against it. If a professor arbitrarily changed a deadline, you might have a point.

Even then, this doesn't really addresses point that working well with those around you is far more important than any ankle grabbing flexibility. To use your analogy, when deadlines come crashing down, you want to colleagues who will work with you to respond to the changes (be it partners, associates, secretaries, support staff, whatever). Working well and playing nice is what will make an unpleasant situation workable. Critically, the thing not do is to completely dick people over for your own personal benefit. But what do I know about deadlines and the working world?

If I didn't know better, I'd say you're advocating for a hypercompetitive environment of a dog-eat-dog/survival of the fittest situation because of a non-existent applicability to the real world. I think there are a million other ways to bring a more realistic view of the practice to law school. Adding stress to an already stressful subject of exams isn't one of them. It's very unBoalt Dude.

3/16/2010 11:26 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

When I decided to come to Boalt, it was because I was convinced that Boalt was different and that shit like this didn't happen here. Now, sometimes I feel as if I've spent three years being taught that we are, in fact, just like every other law school.

3/16/2010 11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To clarify: the sub-P convo was not because he moved the test up. I just never went to class and wrote on a subject beyond the scope. It really has no relationship to this conversation. Also, the sub-P isn't the end of the world (though it certainly felt like it). I have a job, and probably enjoyed that semester a lot more than I would have had I gone to class all the time (in part because I rid the world of an incalculable number of terrorists via Modern Warfare I).

3/16/2010 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy overreaction, Batman. I'm not in this class, so maybe I'm missing what really happened here, but I can't believe this is that big a deal, and casting aspersions on individual students or Boalt as a whole because of this seems pretty ridiculous.

So, Ch*per appears to have been unclear about the exam time, and then made it worse by opening it up to student vote (whether of his own choosing or prompted by a student--but it was his choice to conduct the vote either way). At that point, some people had the gall to have different opinions from the class's self-professed non-gunners. Personally, I wouldn't want to move an exam time, but several people have given perfectly reasonable explanations for wanting it earlier--isn't it being more of a "gunner" (a word, by the way, that has about as much meaning as "douchebag" or "radical" have these days) to get all worked up over this instead of just voting and then going with the flow?

To the extent I see an issue here, it's not that someone asked for an earlier exam time (and it's not clear someone even did that), it's that other students are so quick to attempt to belittle other students for pretty much no reason at all.

3/16/2010 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God forbid someone uses the word gunner. If you weren't in class, you didn't see someone raise there hand and ask to move the exam up off of its scheduled date.

This is bad behavior. Good for James for pointing it out as bad behavior.

3/16/2010 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've heard there is a group of 3Ls in this class that actively boo gunner-like activity. I'd like to thank them for their service to this country.

3/16/2010 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bekki, that was a hilarious attempt to rationalize your deplorable analogy. Thanks for the lols

11:43 Anonymous, it's amazing that you somehow managed to read the thread closely enough to somehow divine some "perfectly reasonable explanations" from the absurd arguments in here like "lol if u want to take it later maybe you're a gunner" and "Life is hard, therefore you must thrust this lesson upon your entire Con Law class" and yet miss the other side's whole point. Why do you think that is?

Here's the fucking problem: On the first day of class, we were told the date of the final. It also appears on the official exam times list. The majority of the class believed that the final would be on that date, and have been living this entire semester accordingly. (Whether this means preparing at a slower rate, not preparing at all, or anything else is irrelevant) For this reason, when our professor asked us to vote on whether to move up the date of final, this group vastly outnumbered those who wanted it to be earlier.

As this comments section has demonstrated, people favoring the earlier date, and their sympathizers such as yourself, seem wholly unable to appreciate the tremendous burden that such a move would place on the majority of people in the class. I even exaggerate on the Internet a lot, but I'm being 100% literal here. You seriously posted that you think the real issue is that James called the people a name.

Which is presumably why James made this post. He was gently explaining that it's not fair to classmates who had been acting in reliance on the announced date, and kindly asking people not to screw the rest of their classmates like this. The fact that you, Bekki, and a handful of other anons can't conceptualize this is literally the reason that he made this post. It's advice for people like you. Maybe instead of being defensive, you could reread the last paragraph of the post and the vast majority of comments who agree with James (and really, that should be a sign, because it's not like James's posts are known for getting a warm reception on this blog) and think about being considerate in the future instead of defensive about the fact that people don't like you being inconsiderate.

3/16/2010 12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:43 here--

12:31,

I don't think we disagree very much. First off, I didn't think much of Bekki's reasoning, or of any reasoning based around the "gunner" concept. But something along the lines of, it may actually be better to take it earlier, isn't crazy (e.g., if Ch*per offered to give two exams, I'm sure a significant portion of the class would choose the earlier date).

But the main we agree on here is that the majority of the class voted to keep the later exam date. I do appreciate the burden it would put on the majority, and so the majority won out. Isn't that how it's supposed to work?

That the majority wanted this (and that I think it was for good reason and I would have voted the same way) doesn't make it crazy for someone to ask the question, however. The question was asked, and then was quickly quashed. What went wrong here exactly? I'd rather have stupid questions asked then not asked, because sometimes they turn out to not be so stupid, and I'd rather not stifle suggestions in a classroom. This wasn't a person demanding special treatment at the expense of others, it was just a suggestion, and one that other students had the ability to quickly quash. That it was not a popular suggestion doesn't make the person an asshole for suggesting it.

As to being defensive, I don't see how you read my post as being defensive, since I was saying the whole thing is overblown. I think James' original post is totally fine and approached the situation reasonably and without vitriol--I have no problem with what he wrote. Some of the comments, though, have gotten into the neighborhood of "You're a gunner! No, YOU'RE a GUNNER!" I'm just sick of that whole attitude. Why the constant need by Boalt students to prove their slackerdom and label everyone else a gunner? Taking law school seriously doesn't make you a bad person, so long as you're not an ass to other people (and the person in this class doesn't seem to have been an ass; s/he seems to have been making an idle suggestion).

Anyway, this really is much ado about nothing. If one person had gone personally to Ch*per and demanded a change, and he had granted it without a vote, that would be very different. But nothing like that happened here.

3/16/2010 1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 Comments:
(1) I <3 12:19.
(2) Just so we get our terminology straight. You can be smart, successful, care about your future, AND not be a gunner. Nothing wrong with discouraging the gunners that are willing to screw over their fellow students for a slightly better grade.

3/16/2010 1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a wonderful textualist argument: It's called "finals week" for a reason.

3/16/2010 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think someone should establish a definition of gunner. It seems like many people are using it in slightly different ways with different connotations, leading to general confusion and vitriol.

3/16/2010 3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is insane.

Ch*per took a vote on the off chance that most students would want to be done early. The vote was to keep the exam when it was. End of story.

The student did not "bring up" the issue in any way. I can't believe that she is being called a "gunner" for that. I voted to leave the exam when it scheduled. But I can certainly see the appeal of being done early.

3/16/2010 3:58 PM  
Blogger James said...

I don't think hissing at your classmates in the middle of class is awesome, either.

Just want to put that out there.

3/16/2010 4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I got to Boalt, I viewed this blog as a valuable source of interesting news regarding campus happenings. The blatant and snipy mischaracterization underlying the original post has guaranteed that I will no longer be turning to N&B for that purpose.

3/16/2010 4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@4:41 -

If "interesting news" coverage is what you seek, perhaps you should consider turning to a news outlet or another form of media dedicated to that purpose, not a blog which proclaims itself to be "stories from the fruits and nuts of the University of California..." I mean, come on.

This post doesn't blantantly mischaracterize what happened in class yesterday. Are you sure it doesn't just represent a viewpoint you don't like?

Go campaign for everyone's finals to be closed-book or something, in all the time you freed up by disavowing N&B.

3/16/2010 5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol at 4:41!

I'm afraid your consumerism has gotten the best of you, because you are whining about something you get for free. You talk as if you are a shareholder pulling your stake from Nuts & Boalts Inc, or as if Armen and Patrick might be staying awake at night worrying that James is ruining their business model by driving customers away. In case you hadn't noticed, theirs is a 100 percent pro bono effort, and motivated by something other than the desire to fulfill your desire for "interesting news regarding campus happenings" (how does this post not qualify?). I'm pretty sure none of them give a whit what you think, which is exactly what makes our school's blog the number one student blog in the country. I'm also pretty sure that's exactly why no matter what you say you'll keep reading it.

Wait. I just realized that maybe you were being ironic and tongue in cheek. Were you? That would be awesome.

3/16/2010 5:27 PM  

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