Cycling competition rolls through final exams

Illustration by Dan Nacu.

Michael Melkonian
Contributing Writer

Final exams have been moved from May 2 to April 30 due to the CapTech USA Cycling competition running through the heart of the Monroe Park campus during the scheduled finals week.

From May 2-4, the CapTech USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships will feature approximately 400 college athletes competing in a three-day event for 22 different national titles. The decision to move exams was made at the executive level because of traffic and congestion concerns pertaining to the races.

“It’s sort of like a crisis situation,” said John Wiencek, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Administration & Strategic Initiatives at VCU. “I hate to use that word because it’s so extreme, but there’s a time frame that is pressing upon you and you need to make a more immediate decision.”

Wiencek said he received the information about the championship dates about six weeks ago–well into the spring semester and after the academic calendar had been posted.

He said the decision to move finals was made to allow students to get to campus and focus on their exams without being mentally disturbed from battling traffic jams or other side effects of the race.

“It’s not going to be a good outcome no matter what,” Wiencek said. “I mean, if we stick with the exam schedule, that makes some people happy, but later on it makes a lot of people unhappy.”

Rachel Leif, National Events Manager for USA Cycling, said the event could bring up to 5,000 spectators in a single day. Registration for one of the events is still open to the public and there is a lot of uncertainty about the final turnout.

“It should be a pretty big event, possibly one of the biggest collegiate road national championships we’ve had,” Leif said.

Not only are the changing exam dates causing a disturbance, but there are thousands of other students who will need access to campus buildings like the library in order to study for final exams.

Laura Middlebrooks, Ph.D., teaches a Spanish 101 class affected by the last-minute changes to the exam schedule. Luckily for her and her students, she said only one student had to make other arrangements because of the scheduling debacle.

“To my knowledge, professors are encouraged not to have exams on reading days but this obviously is a special circumstance,” Middlebrooks said.

Changing the exam schedule this late in the semester is unprecedented, Middlebrooks said.

If students do get all of their exam cramming out of the way early though, they are in for an exciting set of races, Leif said. This event is the test event for next year’s world championship races also taking place in Richmond. The championship could reach up to 300 million television viewers around the globe.

“Typically these events aren’t downtown in major cities so this is going to be pretty awesome to see,” Leif said.

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