There are a handful of traditions that are synonymous with Penn: throwing toast at football games, Spring Fling, and perhaps most notably, Hey Day, where soon-to-be seniors march down Locust Walk with canes and are officially declared seniors by the University president. The celebration, which normally takes place during April of one’s junior year, was postponed to the following fall for the Class of 2022, and it will be held on Oct. 13.
This year, Hey Day will look different, and not just because of the date. The fall date of the celebration has led to controversy, with students unable to attend the celebration due to class. Furthermore, the date is just one day before the beginning of fall break, which could lead to additional absences. Given the importance of Hey Day to the Penn experience, professors should refrain from scheduling exams on that date, and excuse students who wish to attend the celebration.
Professors have several options to excuse students. Most obviously, they could cancel class entirely on Wednesday. Doing so would obviously affect not just seniors, but underclassmen as well. This would allow those who are not seniors, as well as seniors who choose not to attend, to get an early start on fall break. At a University that has often been criticized for inadequate breaks, professors canceling class the day before one would undoubtedly help students relax.
If professors are (understandably) reluctant to cancel class next Wednesday, they could excuse senior students from attending class on that day. Such a move could either be across the board or based on student request. Regardless, professors ought to understand that Hey Day is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for students, and they should be allowed to miss one class for it.
Such students would ultimately be responsible for the material on the day missed. Fortunately, remote resources make it less likely for students to fall behind after class. For instance, some professors have continued the practice of recording classes, despite officially being in person. If such resources are unavailable, students would likely be able to get notes from a classmate.
Some may argue that the responsibility isn’t on professors to cancel classes, and instead, Class Board 2022 should move the date of Hey Day. However, Class Board President and College senior Sam Strickberger has already expressed that the planned date was “not ideal” for several reasons. Furthermore, he said Oct. 13 is the only viable date, after discussing the issue with relevant parties.
Hey Day’s importance cannot be overstated. It is a right of passage that Penn students have partaken in for over a century and a common ritual that bonds virtually all alumni. The Class of 2022 should not be forced to miss this special occasion. As such, professors should do the right thing, and ensure all seniors in their classes can attend Hey Day next Wednesday.
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