Fire Away: No Fall Reading Week? Give Us a Break!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

  • Guelph students persevere throughout the fall semester without a break

    Guelph students persevere throughout the fall semester without a break

Written by Stephanie Rennie

Nothing feels better than packing your bags and catching a bus home in the frosty month of February for week long break from the hustle and bustle of University life. In the midst of midterm madness and looming papers, this glorious week provides nine days for students to catch up on their studies, work ahead, and regain some much needed sanity.

Some students spend their reading week doing just that, reading. Others spend their week in tropical destinations or hitting the snow covered slopes. Unfortunately, reading weeks throughout my academic career have been spent doing the former, but this week has often been a stress-relieving life saver. No matter what you spend your reading week doing, this mid-semester break is crucial to keeping up motivation for the remaining weeks of the semester.

Reading week is a crucial aspect of the winter semester as it alleviates a great deal of stress that has been building throughout the year and operates as a safety net for getting work done that would otherwise seem inconceivable. By allowing students to have a week away from the fast pace and high stress levels of University, such a break does wonders for the mental well-being of students and faculty alike.

Many Ontario Universities have recognized the importance of reading week and as a result, have implemented reading weeks in both the fall and winter semesters. Students attending Universities such as Laurentian and Trent have enjoyed a break in the middle of the chaotic fall semester for many years. Other Universities, including UOttawa and York, are catching on to this trend and have recently established a fall reading week into their academic calendar.

So why are University of Guelph students expected to persevere through the many weeks of the fall semester without a break?

It is illogical to grant students a winter reading week without considering the equivalent need for a break in the fall semester. In fact, the fall semester is arguably more hectic because the beginning weeks of September are typically spent moving back to Guelph, waiting in agonizing lines, and trying to organize the year ahead. It does not make any sense for there to be a break in the winter semester and for students to be expected to keep the momentum strong throughout the fall whilst their friends at other universities enjoy time off.

There is no doubt that winter break provides students a chance to recuperate and reflect to properly study for midterms and to think ahead to what they need to accomplish in the coming weeks. I feel that the lack of break in the fall semester results in a whirlwind that spins right into the foreboding exam period.

Although Thanksgiving weekend seeks to provide students with three days off, for many it ends up being a weekend of running around, eating and drinking copious amounts, and the returning to Guelph without rest and a stack of midterms to look forward to.

I personally feel great agitation when I am bombarded with Facebook status updates and phone calls mid-semester bragging about the glory that is fall reading week while I am nose to the grind trying desperately hard just to keep my head above water.

While students at other universities are able to improve their marks and their mental health during this week long holiday, students here in Guelph have no such luck in clearing and replenishing their minds to prepare for the long weeks between midterms and finals.

For now students at the University of Guelph will be stuck on campus overwhelmed with midterms, papers and assignments while fellow University students are enjoying a break to catch up with friends, catch up with school work and to catch their breath.

Stephanie Rennie is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon. Fire Away publishes every Thursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.


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  1. Posted by: on Nov 10, 2011 @ 2:55pm

    I actually am really glad that Guelph doesn't have a reading week in Fall because we always have the LONGEST Christmas breaks, and I'd rather have a long break where I don't have to stress about school, than a reading week where I'm just working.

  2. Posted by: on Nov 13, 2011 @ 10:05pm

    I really wish we had a reading week in the fall because I'm reaching the burn out point come November because Thanksgiving weekend involved studying for midterms and writing a history paper rather than being with my family as much as I would have like to. I've been going for weeks with no slack to make sure I keep up with everything, and I almost just want to give up some days because it feels like all I do is work and study and not have the chance to set my mind at ease knowing that there's a short break where I don't need to think about school.

    I hope Guelph really does consider giving a fall reading week, because my friends who do have reading weeks in october all seem to be in better shape than we seem to be.

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