MRU students to get more time off
Stressed out students to receive weeklong reading break in fall 2017
By Jennifer Dorozio, Contributor
Mount Royal University (MRU) has made a long-discussed decision this month to give students a full reading week in the fall term of classes in order to support students’ mental health.
MRU will allow students a break for a full five days in the fall semester coinciding with the Thanksgiving Monday that already exists as a statutory holiday. The four days off of classes will fall after Thanksgiving Monday in October 2017.
“The decision to add a fall term reading week reflects our commitment to student success,” says MRU president David Docherty in a release. “We feel strongly that the timing of this break will be extremely beneficial to students’ mental health and well-being.”
The concept for the fall break was birthed from the President’s Task Force on Student Mental Health that was created in 2013. It is intended to allow students not only a reprieve from classes but an opportunity to meet with their professors and engage in the support services on campus earlier on in the semester.
The university could also have been following suit from the University of Lethbridge Calgary Campus who held their first week-long reading break this fall. Additionally, St. Mary’s University announced that they too would move towards having a full week off for the fall term next year.
When the information of a fall reading week for MRU was released on Facebook there was a mixed bag of reactions, some positive and others questioning why students would want to get less for what they are paying.
One Facebook commenter, Darren Davies, says, “Education, the one paid service where the customer gets excited by a reduction in the service.”
Others, especially MRU students, seem to be elated at the chance to have more reading days. Ashley Beal, an MRU nursing student, who says in a Facebook comment that the fall reading break, “Is simply a smart way to prevent burn out and gives students an opportunity to reassess their time management strategy for the rest of the term.” She maintained that reading break is “not a vacation”, but to be used to address the many classes that students juggle, and that, “the nursing program definitely needs this.”
Robert Nelson, Vice-President Academic of the Students Association of Mount Royal (SAMRU) hopes that the weeklong break will address concerns like these, “Giving students a chance to prioritize their well-being will undoubtedly improve their chances at academic success.”
Nelson, in the release, said that this decision was a long time coming, “Initiatives like this show our institution’s dedication to putting students’ mental health first and addressing needs that have existed for a long time.”
Other universities in Calgary have fall reading breaks modeled more closely to what MRU has up until recently done. Ambrose University and the University of Calgary give their students classes off for about two days, coinciding with weekend days.