The only thing I’m more thrilled about than the fact that the recent amount of snow resulted in a school closure allowing me to write this editorial at home, in bed, with a fresh cup of coffee and in my favourite pair of Star Wars pajama pants, is that next week is even better because I won’t spend every day wondering if for the following day, campus will be open or not.
Reading break has got to be one of my favourite weeks of the year — it’s like a breath of fresh air in the middle of a storm of papers, group projects, presentations, and the impending doom of midterms. Just when I get to a point where the semester becomes overwhelming and I can feel myself slipping into a pit of overdue assignments and too many skipped classes, I’m given a week of no deadlines and no lectures, to pull myself out, regain my composure, and prep for the rest of the semester. Well, either that or leave town for a week and try to put as much distance as I can between myself and UFV. Usually it’s the latter, but both still make the second half of the term a little more bearable.
Unfortunately, the relief that comes with reading break, the feeling that I look forward to every January, the feeling that never fails to make my mid-semester stress just a little easier to get through, is limited to the winter semester.
UFV released its sessional dates for 2017 to 2022 and the one change I was hoping to see — the implementation of a fall reading break — was not included.
If I absolutely had to choose between having a fall or a winter reading break, it would be the winter break, every time. Christmas break just isn’t enough time to recuperate, especially not compared to summer, and winter is already dreary enough that having to spend 12 straight weeks in class would just make it that much worse.
Thing is, I shouldn’t have to choose. Fall reading break is actually a thing — just not at UFV.
University of Lethbridge had its first last semester, Mount Royal University is officially implementing one this year, and University of Calgary is hoping to do the same by 2018 — and these universities are late to the game. On the east coast, there are more public universities that have fall reading breaks than those that don’t.
However, adding a fall reading break isn’t as easy as it sounds; it’s not like UFV can just decide to shut down in the middle of the semester and give everyone a week off. There’s an amount of teaching days that needs to be met and if some of those are taken away, they’ll need to be added somewhere else. That means either starting the semester a week early — before Labour Day and potentially even in August — or finishing late, and shortening the Christmas break. Both of these sound like horrible options (especially having a shorter break between semesters; please, please don’t do this UFV), but so does the thought of suffering through another straight 12-week semester without a break.
This is one of those things where no matter what decision is made, people will be unhappy. I don’t think any student likes the idea of a longer semester, but I also don’t think any student likes the idea of not having a reading break.
The difference between the two options is that one will benefit students’ mental health. Adding a fall reading break will no doubt be an inconvenience for UFV, but it should be one that’s worth it if it’ll benefit its students.
Until that happens, I’m just grateful that reading break exists. If you need me, I’ll be somewhere on a beach in southern Oregon, and I’m not coming back until I have to (in exactly 12 days and 10 hours from now).