Nicholas and Timothy. or was it Timothy and Nicholas?

Phillip Kurdunowicz
Illustrations by JOHN OQUIST

This was the question LSA senior Jordan Rossen asked himself last night around 3:00 a.m. Tuesday in the Fishbowl. Due to a combination of stress of an approaching deadline and lack of sleep, Rossen began mixing up the names of the main characters in the short story he planned on submitting for the Hopwood competition.

“At the last minute I chose (a submission) that I wasn’t planning on choosing,” Rossen said. “I changed it a ton, and it’s way better, but my fear is that, even though it’s way better, there’s more typos now. At one point I started switching my main characters, but I think I fixed them all.”

Rossen’s anxiety is one that many student felt Tuesday as they raced to finish their manuscripts before the stringent 12 a.m. deadline of the Hopwood Program’s graduate and undergraduate contest, awarded bi-annually to students. Every year, the Hopwood Program grants awards totaling close to $150,000 to a few gifted winners.

The rest of the contest’s applicants get only the memory of the agonizing self-editing, experimental printing formats and paper cuts that got them to the deadline.

For RC junior Beenish Ahmed, the madness started last night after a friend told her that the deadline wasn’t at the end of February, but tomorrow.

“I said to myself, ‘Oh shoot, I have a really long night ahead of me,’ ” Ahmed said.

And a long night it was. Ahmed, who has won four times in the Hopwood contest for freshmen and sophomores, managed to “explode” 8 pages of non-fiction prose into 16 pages, revise 5 pages of poetry and compose 7 more pages of poetry. Miraculously, she still got an hour of sleep.

“It was really crazy, and I have no idea how it happened,” Ahmed said. “Probably a lot of the stuff is really terrible and I just dreamt that it was good, because I definitely convinced myself that it was good.”

Ahmed wasn’t the only one who threw together her portfolio last night. LSA senior Amanda Bruce has been working on her short story submission for the past month, but spent the entire night creating an ending she was happy with. As theher, the stress began to build.

“I almost got in a fight with someone in the basement of the UGLi last night because (a group of people) wouldn’t shut up and I was stressing out because I couldn’t finish my ending,” Bruce said. “I had to go take off for a while. They were talking about stripping naked and having Superbowl parties, and I just couldn’t concentrate.”

Andrea Beauchamp, assistant director of the Hopwood Program, said Bruce wasn’t the only one with violence on her mind as the deadline draw near. Beauchamp, who stands sentry inside the small doorframe of the Hopwood Room each year to accept student’s submissions, has seen plenty of ordinarily reasonable students turn feral after missing the deadline – sometimes only by a minute. The first year Beauchamp oversaw the Hopwood submission process, a nun who shared her position ended up throwing away the manuscript of a student who simply would not accept the reality of his tardiness.

“I’m here to help people enter, but we have to draw the line somewhere, and it might as well be the deadline,” Beauchamp said. “(The nun) was showing me what to do when the first deadline came up and the deadline passed and this guy came up and pounded on the door. She opened the door and she said ‘I’m sorry, the deadline is over’ and he started screaming and cursing. She shut the door, and he kept pounding on the door and she got really mad. She opened the door and said ‘I’ll take your manuscripts’ and she took them and threw them into the wastebasket within his sight, and closed the door.”

Luckily for all parties involved, the situation didn’t escalate. But there have been instances that prompted Beauchamp to up security. After a frustrated applicant threw a metal hole puncher at a work-study worker in the Hopwood Room, Beauchamp asked Elwood Reid, a graduate student and former football player, to work as a temporary bodyguard at deadline time.

“Usually when the deadline comes, people yell and scream and cry,” Beauchamp said. “But he came and people were pounding on the door after the deadline and he opened it up and there was this big guy who said, ‘Deadline’s over!’ and they said ‘OK’ and off they went.”

Hopwood Chairman Nicholas Delbanco said the deadline is strict because if an exception is made for one student, exceptions have to be made for all students.

“We have people that come in a time zone late, or three minutes too late, but I’m frankly of the old school conviction that a deadline is a deadline, and you’re dead if you cross (it),” Delbanco said.)

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