February 12, 2003: On the Campus
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 Deans Date, January 14, to cheer on their peers turning in papers in what could be an up-and-coming Princeton tradition.
Deans 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. Deans 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 its 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 Ive ever handed in a paper, she said, smiling. Its nice to know that there are people watching you and cheering for you, but its 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 Years 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: Im going to sleep.
Melissa Renny 03 is an English major from Linwood, New Jersey. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.