Midterm reading break is a waste of time

Peter Gillette

Midterm Reading Period, a bright pink letter from Dean Gajewski reminded me, was not meant by the faculty to be a vacation, but rather a time to reflect on one’s academic progress; a time to rest on one’s academic laurels, or, as it were, a time to give one’s self a swift kick in the academic . . . ask your adviser. I was glad to get that letter from Student Academic Services, but it was a tad superfluous, since faculty really don’t seem to need a lot of help in reminding students that Midterm Reading Period is not intended to be a vacation.

When one has 24 theoretically “unscheduled” hours in a day, then, it follows, seven of those hours (to use a popular example from fellow disgruntled MUTH students) should be spent on a test. Seven hours?!

Thank heavens, though, that our lesson teachers don’t expect us to practice very much. We just need to reflect upon what we need to work on, and, well, read . . .

And, being the conscientious students that we all are, our first night will not be spent staying up until 4:00 a.m. and eating really, really nasty frozen pizzas and watching bootlegged movies.

Our second day will not be spent sleeping until 1:28 p.m. and then rushing to put on the first night’s clothes just in time to eat at Downer and not waste our waning grill credit.

At 2:00 p.m. Thursday, we will not sit around and ask ourselves if we should crack open Paradise Lost, but instead read Maxim. Friday afternoon, we will actually go and practice at the Con; we won’t just sit on the couches. And all during this time, we will be working on our seven-hour midterm exam.

At 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, we won’t look up from a Denny’s menu to suddenly realize that our advising session should have begun 15 minutes ago, and the next Appleton city bus won’t arrive for another 15 minutes.

Friday morning, we will not sleep through our rescheduled advising meeting. We will not do this because Friday is the day we intend to really dig in and get stuff done. Friday is our work day. Friday we shall . . . Friday, to be sure, we won’t head out to the mall and get off campus for only the second time all term (the first being Denny’s, of course) at the expense of Mr. Milton or Mr. Midterm Exam.

And if by some colossal conspiracy of the fates we don’t finish all of our work Friday, then surely Saturday will become the work day.

We will not end up staying up late and then wake up at 12:57 p.m. and rush to brunch and then we will not watch a college football game.

Saturday night, too, we will go to bed early, in case there is, by some miracle, some work left to finish on Sunday.

And if we don’t by some chance get to bed precisely as we expected Saturday night, perhaps we will wake up a tad late on Sunday. And surely there will be no good NFL games on.

We will not pull an all-nighter Sunday evening for our MWF 8:30 class.

Instead, we will have reflected on our academic plans in general, and even get a jumpstart on the sixth-week syllabi.

But the irony of the reading period is that the students who need it the most—who are behind the most coming into midterms—are the same students who will attempt to slack off over reading period. Is that, though, necessarily negative?

Professors, understandably, seem often to view the period simply as a lectureless interval. Those students who slack can’t really be blamed though. Is slacking really all that bad?

I’m of the firm belief that, this weekend, Maxim will help cleanse the palette for Milton; that Radiohead will allow us to relax for Rachmaninoff; that Denny’s will allow us to tolerate Downer until Thanksgiving.

So reflect this weekend, and if you have the means to escape to Barbados, anyone complaining about your absence does so out of pure jealousy.

As for the rest of us, who have been assigned a full weekend’s worth of work, here’s to wasting time and waking up just in time for lunch.