Today is the final day of the Fall 2013 semester, and the sturm und drang of final exams and papers is evident all over campus, and E.H. Little Library is more packed with students this week than ever. Student stress is so apparent this time of year (and in general at Davidson) that Academic Affairs, the SGA and The Davidsonian sponsored yesterday’s “Balancing Academics and Co-Curriculars: A forum hosted by Dean Wendy Raymond.” Last week, in a presumably student-led charge to relieve finals-related stress, several anonymous, encouraging messages appeared on the brick walkways closest to the library:
Previous generations of Davidson students similarly felt tried by the academic rigors of the college, and expressed some of their concerns through their letters home. Henry Elias Fries (class of 1878) wrote his mother in December on 1874, saying that:
… the semiannual judgement day as Col. Martin calls it, is now at hand, & we look upon it with dread. I am reconciled to my fate; many of us are about on a par, & we feel rather feeble in the knees…
Fries’ apprehension over his exams didn’t end with the semester – he again wrote to his mother on January 3, 1875, requesting that she send his exam results as soon as possible (reports were sent to students’ parents or guardians rather than to the student himself):
The reports were sent off last night, & judging from those which were sent around here I feel rather scared, lest the remaining returns which Dr. P spoke of will be below 60… If I get through without failing I will be very glad indeed but the reports are gone & my fate is sealed. If I get through without failing please send my report as soon as possible…
Hopefully most of our modern students are not as dread-filled as young Fries, but if they are, numerous departments and organizations have put together several events to help students de-stress as they prepare for their exams. Tomorrow is Reading Day, which will include a Puppy Extravaganza in the Smith 900 Room during the common hour, a Theatre and Dance party in Scene Shop in the Cunningham Theatre Center (RM 120) with free food from 12 PM to 1 PM, the Curry Club’s Finals Feast in the Multicultural House’s Upstairs Lounge from 5 PM to 6 PM, the Student Government Association’s Finals Fest in the Baxter Davidson Room (Chambers) from 9 PM to 10:30 PM (featuring fresh pizza coming every 30 minutes), and the traditional DCPC Cookie Break from 10 PM to 11 PM. The following day, Friday, there will be an Ice Cream Study Break in the Smith 900 Room beginning at 10 PM (yours truly is a backup scooper this year, so say hello if you see me there!).
Here in the library, the staff supplies some quick, mindless study breaks starting on Reading Day in the form of puzzles, Legos, Mr. & Mrs. Potato Heads, and games of Twister, Battleship, and Connect Four.
If you’re feeling stressed, stop by the library or one of the events mentioned above to give your brain a bit of a rest. As the chalked encouragements remind us all, you studied – don’t worry!