Throwback Thursday: Attitudes about finals remain unchanged

Sara Reinsch

A group of 1943 Daily Texan articles that announced the beginning of dead week reveal that students’ views, study methods and attitudes surrounding final exams haven’t changed much in the last 70 years.

“As certain as death and taxes, those final examinations are just a week away, but what a week,” one of the articles said. “Stock in anti-sleep tablets, hot black coffee, and other sleep chasers will soar to the heights, as students who now haven’t worn the gloss off their books really get down and DIG!”

Much to the disdain of health care professionals, the words “coffee” and “Adderall” are commonly heard around campus at this time of year. In one of the 1943 articles, titled “Students Who Cram To Get Out of Jam Sleep Past Exam,” a former University Health Services director advised students against using unnatural methods to stay awake during finals week. Dean of Women Dorothy Gebauer chimed in, warning students that last-minute cramming and attempted all-nighters could result in oversleeping on exam day. 

Even without sleep deprivation, studying for finals often takes a toll on a student’s emotional stability — especially when multiple exams are piled on the same day.

“Majorie Campbell, business administration student from Roaring Springs, had four exams Tuesday and Wednesday,” one of the articles said. “She remarked Tuesday that she would jump off the tower but she hated not to get credit for this semester’s work.”

Other students took advantage of the week off from school. 

“Picture shows, late dates, slumber parties, letter-writing, and Barton’s furnish plenty of entertainment for dead weekers,” one of the articles said. “The truth is, dead week is more alive today than it was back in 1904, when it started. … As the years passed stricter enforcement of existing rules and extended regulations have helped to make dead week a well-known time for both students and faculty, even if it might not be the real review period it should be.”

The Texan humorously implemented its own check system to enforce dead week rules, wrapping up the articles with a simple promise: “The Daily Texan will publish accounts of dead week violations.”