University of Regina Begins Offering Fall Reading Break

Though popular at the U of R, there are no plans to introduce one at KPU

(Jessica Limoanco)

Offered for the first time this November, students at the University of Regina enjoyed a week-long respite from classes as part of a fall reading break.

According to U of R Registrar Jim D’Arcy, a holiday from Nov. 7 to Nov.  13 was added to the fall semester as part of a mental health initiative at the university. The institution hopes that, by offering some time off in November to compliment the more traditional spring reading break, students will have time to relax and focus on their life outside of academia. Members of faculty will also be given the opportunity to catch up on research, marking, and other commitments.

“Primarily [the reading break] is for students, for their mental health,” says D’Arcy. “It’s providing them an opportunity to catch up on their studies, review their course outlines, and see where they’re at in their courses, maybe focus on areas of weakness, especially after midterms they kind of have a general idea of where they need to focus their energy.”

D’Arcy says that the university’s student association approached him and his colleagues to “express concerns about student mental health,” and emphasize that they needed a break in the fall semester to catch up on their studies.

“We took those concerns seriously and committed to doing a survey to see what the interest was,” he says.

The survey—which went out to students and staff—sought to determine if there would be support for the establishment of a break, and if so, which dates would be best for it. According to D’Arcy, around 70 per cent of respondents agreed that the break should be offered. Students didn’t seem to be concerned about the compromises that would accompany the decision, including losing a study day before the beginning of exams.

At Kwantlen Polytechnic University, however, a fall reading break doesn’t seem as popular an idea with the student body. KPU’s Provost and Vice President Salvador Ferreras says that he’s never received a request from staff or faculty for a fall reading break. KPU alumni and a coordinator for the KSA Peer Support Program Jennifer Lingbaoan echoes this statement.

“I can’t say for sure that I would have been okay with it,” she says. “I feel like having a reading break in the middle of the fall semester might have given me a little bit of anxiety.”

KSA Vice President Student Life, David Piraquive, says he has mixed feelings about advocating for a fall reading break.

“As a student, I thought it was really awesome, having an extra week. But then we [KSA executives] talked amongst ourselves, and one of the drawbacks that we see is that a lot of the classes on Mondays have holidays,” he says. “Teachers have a lot of crunch time, and wouldn’t have enough days to do their lectures. As it already is, they don’t have enough days on Mondays.”

Though there may not be time for an additional break, the KSA still strongly values mental health initiatives for students. From the peer support program to counselling and MyWellness, an online counselling program, the student association strives to facilitate conversations about developing plans to promote mental health. While students and faculty may not get a reading break this semester, there are plans to introduce many new events for people to look forward to in the future.

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