In a closed door meeting late last week, a collection of over 150 College, Wharton, Nursing and Engineering professors agreed to expand the definition of a “midterm” test—usually used to denote an assignment given at the midpoint of the semester—to include “whatever we want, whenever we want.”
A professor who was present during the meeting, but declined to be named due to potential backlash from colleagues, explained that the new definition “greatly expands the powers and capabilities of all professors, allowing them to assign a midterm literally on the first day of class and still justify it.”
The professor added that the rule also allowed for the definition of what constitutes a midterm to be expanded, and that assignments such as a scavenger hunt, doing the professor’s chores and a cage match–style face–off between students will all now count as “midterms.”
Associate Professor of American History Beverly Richards said, “I absolutely love this new rule. Once, I perhaps had to feel bad about assigning two essays within a 10–day period, but now I can proudly label them 'midterms' and watch my students suffer.”
While faculty reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, the student body has had a more contentious—and angry—reaction.
“It’s really an overreach of powers, in my opinion,” said Aaron Levitz (C '19). “I already have had three midterms in my Biochemistry class just in the month that we’ve been back at school, and my professor announced yesterday that we have two more before spring break.”
Layla Ferguson (E '20) added, “I literally don’t understand how they’ve taught us enough information to be giving us midterms at the pace they are. I had a midterm yesterday and another today. We didn’t learn anything in between. What?”
A spokesperson for the University released a statement early yesterday evening addressing the change, adding, “We at the University believe this is a tremendous step forward in the scope and scale of Penn’s prestigious academics. With this change, we believe students will graduate having completed over 200 five–point quizzes on Canvas—a true accomplishment for all of us.”