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A timetable for senior thesis procrastinators

The rumor mill is reporting that about 20 seniors in the Department of Politics couldn't make it to Corwin Hall with their theses by 5 p.m. flat on Friday. Fortunately, I am not among The Tardy Twenty – 3:30 for me, thank you very much – but I'm a little worried that a sixth of my department was late in turning in the Big T and may still be delinquent as you read.

You see, as a department that studies policy and procedure, Politics is big on rules. We were reminded recently that late theses are docked 1/3 of a grade for every two days late. After May 4, a late book report will be accepted only with a dean's permission and penalties may be suspended under "truly extraordinary circumstances."

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However, I have learned that the politics department – and presumably others at this university – have worked out a penalty schedule well beyond the next few weeks. Of course, given the campus legend that some students take years to turn in their theses, it makes sense that Princeton would account for all contingencies.

For those expecting to be especially late, be advised that . . .

IF YOU TURN IN YOUR THESIS, . . AFTER MAY 4, BUT BEFORE REUNIONS: You will not be allowed to wear the Class of '98 motorcycle jacket, The Rebel, during Reunions and P-Rade. (Oh, darn.) You will, however, be named as the designer of the jacket, thereby incurring the wrath of your fellow seniors. . . BETWEEN REUNIONS AND COMMENCEMENT: During graduation festivities, you will be responsible for the wellbeing of the great aunt of one of your fellow politics majors. She will be flying into Newark and needs a humidifier in her room. . . AFTER GRADUATION AND BEFORE YOU START WORK: If you have a job, your job offer will be revoked so that you will have time to work on your thesis. If you don't have a job, you will be given one so that you may learn the value of a day's labor and, armed with this newfound work ethic, you will finally finish your thesis. . . AT YOUR 1st REUNION: This time you will be forced to wear The Rebel jacket during P-Rade, as well as ride in the sidecar of a Harley driven by a chimpanzee. . . AT YOUR 5th REUNION: When everyone else receives a new garment to erase the shame of The Rebel, you must still wear it. That thing doesn't come off until you turn in the thesis, buddy. . . AT YOUR 10th REUNION: By this time, you will likely be married. If you are not, the department will arrange for you to marry the homely daughter of a prominent professor they are trying to woo from Harvard. If you have a child by this point (but still no thesis?!), the department will take possession of your offspring as collateral. . . AT YOUR 25th REUNION: Everyone else in your class will get a new blazer, but guess what you'll be wearing? No, not The Rebel (even the department's cruelty has limits). Instead, it's tar and feathers, affixed to you by the precocious children of your classmates during their Reunions day camp. Your biological child, who will have forgotten you after having been auctioned at your 15th Reunion, will most likely be involved in humiliating you. . . AT YOUR 30th REUNION: At this point, the department figures it's pretty pointless to expect that thesis to come in, so they'll cut you a deal. Corwin will probably need some significant renovations; a fat check from you could make them a reality. The University will issue a press release lauding your "commitment to higher education," and they'll promise not to mention the T-Word.

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