Well tonight was special. I was supposed to have my Databases final, but five minutes before the start the professor informed us that the Registrar's Office, which is responsible for printing the exams, did not print anywhere close to enough. He attempted to get the correct amount printed out, but not having access to good equipment on short notice he pretty much failed. Apparently there is a policy that states that if the exam is more than 30 minutes late in starting it must be rescheduled to a later time. By 8:00 we were still short 40 copies so we ended up not writing this evening.
This kinda sucks because the exam will likely be rescheduled on the last day of exams. Also, I was ready for it today and wanted it to be over with. But I understand that sometimes things go wrong and stuff doesn't work out. What I don't understand is the reaction of many of the people who were supposed to write with me. There was a lot of intense anger and what seemed like no attempt to understand the professor's situation. He is obliged to follow policy. If he were to get us to wait longer than 30 minutes and try to force us to write the exam, any student who wasn't happy could complain to the registrar afterwards and cause a lot of problems. It's not unreasonable to suspect that some students leave an exam unhappy, that happens regardless of other circumstances. Students who originally thought it would be OK to disregard the policy might "suddenly" change their mind if the exam were to go poorly for them. For the professor, it just isn't worth the hassle.
Even if everyone "agreed" that it would be OK to have the exam tonight and disregard the policy, there would still have been the potential for students to complain to the registrar afterwards about feelings of peer pressure. I'm pretty sure anyone who disagreed to having it tonight (given the opportunity) would have been treated severely be the rest of the students. It was a pretty nasty situation.
I am somewhat sympathetic to those students who have plans that may be disrupted by this event, but not too much. This is an upper year class. By now everyone should know that things can happen and exams can get rescheduled. There are a million things that could disrupt an exam at any time of year, it doesn't take a lot of effort to see that. You take a risk by planning something before the end of the exam period. Normally it works out but sometimes it doesn't. You have to be prepared to accept that. It isn't the professor's or anyone else's responsibility to fix it.