By Janet Angulo
If you visit campus in the spring semester, you will see flowers in the planters, green leaves on the trees, and students napping on the Grassy Knoll. As we welcome the new season, we leave behind the snow(mostly) and also Senior Paper Madness.
As part of the requirements for their diploma, seniors must turn in one last essay. It is usually above 20 pages, on a topic of their choosing. Although most students choose to write on books they have read here at St. John’s, students can submit a proposal for off-program books that they want to explore. With the help of an adviser, each senior will work to answer some lingering question they have.
You pick a book, you pick another book, you think you know what your questions are, but then you change your mind. The senior writing process is different for everyone but one thing is sure: it is a process and we all went back to square one at least once.
We get a writing period which is about one month long to work on our papers and we submit our papers in February. There is a very real deadline, and on that day you see seniors scrambling to print and bind their final product. After the copies are bound and ready to go, the seniors dress up, ring the bell in Weigle Hall, and head to the president’s house to turn in their papers.
By the time March rolls around, its Oral season! A senior oral is an hour long oral examination. That sounds scary, but it is more of a conversation between the senior student and their senior essay committee, which is composed of three tutors. Students at St. John’s College have their first oral exam after they turn in their first seminar essay freshman year. While this oral exam and the ones following it in Sophomore and Junior year take place in the seminar tutor’s office, the senior oral takes place in the Ault Evers room inside Meem Library in Santa Fe or at the Barr-Buchanan Center in Annapolis. It is open to the public, which means your friends can come and so can your family.
If you visit in the spring semester, there is a chance you will hear cheering and a sudden pop coming from Meem Library. This is all part of the Senior Oral season. When a senior completes their senior oral, they walk out the Meem Library doors and celebrate with their guests by popping a bottle of champagne, or some other non-alcoholic fizzy beverage, on the front steps.