October is ‘too early’ for reading break, say MRU students
By Rosemary J. De Souza, Features Editor
Unlike several post-secondary institutions, Mount Royal University has its fall reading break earlier than most universities in the province, and some students are looking for a change.
The University of Alberta, University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge have fall reading week scheduled following Remembrance Day in November. Meanwhile, MRU’s reading week is scheduled after the Thanksgiving Day holiday in mid-October.
In a survey conducted by MRU journalism instructor, Mike Vernon, 280 students in the broadcast media and journalism programs received an electronic survey wherein 97 students responded.
Among the responses, an overwhelming 84.5 per cent of students preferred having reading week in November with many stating that hardly any assignments are due in October and a few saying they would prefer the break to fall in between the Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day holidays.
“From what I see in my classes, the Thanksgiving break is just way too early in the semester,” says Vernon in an email to The Reflector. “Students don’t seem to need a break one month into the semester. However, by mid-November they certainly do. At that time, I look out at students’ faces and see a whole lot of stress and fatigue staring back at me.”
“It’s certainly not scheduled at the optimal time to bolster students’ mental health. And yet it’s slated for Thanksgiving again this year.”
In an email statement released by MRU’s associate vice-president and registrar, Phil Warsaba said that mental health, wellness and the scheduled assessments of student performance were factors considered in the placement of reading week.
“The University also is constrained by the required number of teaching days, which will vary between institutions,” says Warsaba. “At Mount Royal, a full week break in the fall can be made possible on Thanksgiving, but not on Remembrance Day.”
This is because Thanksgiving falls on a Monday, permitting students to be back to school a week later, whereas Remembrance Day can fall on any day of the week.
“We continue to consult with [the Student Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU)] about our rationale for October and they are in support of the reading week’s placement,” he says.
The Reflector has reached out to SAMRU for comment but, they indicated that they will be reviewing the data and feedback and had no further comment at that time.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story included a quote which misrepresented Vernon’s statement in regards to when he notices student fatigue. The quote has since been replaced to increase clarity. We regret the error.