Utah Needs Finals Week Tradition

Final Exams Brad Bennion

Finals week can be challenging. As students finish term papers and study for the hardest tests they’ll have all year, it makes sense that they need some ways to de-stress. Some university students accomplish this through fun, silly and sometimes crazy traditions that give them excuses to take study breaks throughout the week. Since the U doesn’t have any fun finals week traditions, I want to remedy that and propose some ways Utah students can forget their work for a few moments.

Perhaps some of these traditions take it too far. In one of the most widespread traditions, dubbed “the primal scream,” students open their windows at some time of night (usually midnight) and yell as loudly as possible. Other schools have long traditions of student dinners and impromptu dance parties. University of Maryland students invoke something between luck and superstition by leaving offerings of snacks, coffee and vegetables next to Testudo, their statue fish mascot. Students can do pretty crazy things when they’re under stress.

But maybe “crazy” is the point. After all, the really crazy thing is for students to stay up late doing more studying in a few days than they did during the entire semester. Perhaps the point of these finals traditions, in addition to stress relief, is to provide students with a momentary distraction from how hard their jobs this week really are. What’s one library dance party compared to a 15-page essay?

I think Utah students could benefit from their own set of traditions to get them through the week. They need not be as loud or bombastic as the primal scream – in fact, they need not be disturbing or annoying at all. The point is to allow students, stressed out from everything, to find something a little silly or crazy to help keep things in perspective.

With this in mind, I propose three traditions for the cramming, sleep-deprived Utah student:

First, a paper-airplane throwing contest. Although it is good policy to keep your old assignments and tests for later, every student knows that there will be one or two assignments that really taught you nothing of value. Or, maybe you got a bad grade on one quiz, and want to make it disappear. In that case, make a paper airplane out of it and try to fling it as far as possible. You can even aim your plane toward the nearest recycling bin if you want to be environmentally conscious and stressed at the same time.

Second, dessert around the Big U. Who doesn’t like cakes, pies, and other sweets? What better way to distract from studies than doing something indulgent in an inconvenient place? This tradition is a little bit limited, considering there is only sitting room on the U for perhaps two or three students at time. Maybe students can take shifts?

Third, Bad Improv outside the Student Life Center. Many of these finals traditions combine some degree of humor with some degree of improvisation. We could bring those together by encouraging students to do the worst comedy set possible while still including something that looks like “jokes.” Perhaps students that get creative can make the best awful humor. Or, perhaps the students with no natural talent would succeed at doing horrible comedy.

In the end, you don’t need everyone in the school to follow your wacky finals week traditions — just a few friends sharing some absurd pastime is enough to lighten the load and create some solidarity around finals week. So, I would encourage you to make your own personal finals week traditions, taking perhaps a brief break from work to plan out some crazy activity.

Perhaps the most poignant and most reasonable finals week tradition celebrated around various college campuses is the midnight breakfast. Students who are still up at midnight come together to take a break from studying and eat breakfast foods. This idea, which allows students to eat, chat and be social in a time of stress, might be just the thing to get Utah students through the week.