February 12, 2003: On the Campus

Dead-run deadline

Students gather to cheer on procrastinators

By Melissa Harvis Renny ’03

On the run, Woodrow Wilson School major Fernando Delgado ’04 (left), from Brasilia, Brazil, described his last-minute papers as dealing with “save the world” issues; Megan Aghazadian ’03 sprints to make the deadline for her Chaucer class, for which she was turning in an analysis of Troilus and Criseyde. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Wearing everything from tutus to pajama pants, about 250 Princeton students gathered outside McCosh Hall on Dean’s Date, January 14, to cheer on their peers turning in papers in what could be an up-and-coming Princeton tradition.

“Dean’s Date Theater,” as the event is called, was started by Rakesh Satyal ’02 two years ago, when he and a few of his friends got together to root for the stragglers turning in papers at the last minute. Dean’s Date, the second Tuesday after winter break, is the official day when all written work for the semester is due. Since its inception, the “theater” has grown in size and scope, and this year onlookers were provided with doughnuts and hot apple cider, courtesy of the university.

“Part of its charm is that it’s not a huge Princeton event,” said Eliza Gregory ’03, who took over the organization of the event after Satyal graduated and who wore a red hat, a tank top, and panties as she raced the clock. “It is spontaneous and silly, and it builds community while celebrating the work that we have completed.”

As it neared 5 p.m., the dreaded final deadline, the crowd grew, cheering and shouting for those who ran past, papers in hand.

One of the pajama-clad runners was Anna Evans ’03, who turned in her last paper at 4:45. Triumphant, she then joined the crowd to watch those who were not yet free of their written work.

“This is the earliest I’ve ever handed in a paper,” she said, smiling. “It’s nice to know that there are people watching you and cheering for you, but it’s a little intimidating to know that you have to perform.”

And perform people did. At 4:55 p.m., three young women clutching papers ran across McCosh courtyard in the 25-degree weather, wearing nothing but their underwear and shoes. They were received with hearty applause.

In the seconds before the clock struck 5:00, the crowd counted down with a euphoria reminiscent of New Year’s Eve: “Ten . . . nine . . . eight . . . ”

Some of this jubilation may have been due to sleep deprivation. Allen Taylor ’03 said that he had gotten a total of four hours of sleep between Saturday and Tuesday, as he struggled to write papers for four classes.

Bleary-eyed but happy, Taylor expressed the sentiments of many students who had pulled all-nighters to finish their work when he said: “I’m going to sleep.”

Melissa Renny ’03 is an English major from Linwood, New Jersey. She can be reached at mrenny@princeton.edu.



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