Students often find themselves at a point where, as their schoolwork piles up and stress begins to build, the desire for a well-deserved break starts to creep in.
Luckily, Brock University offers reading weeks during both the fall and winter semesters. This year, the fall reading week will commence this Monday, Oct. 10, with classes being on hold until Monday, Oct. 17.
By offering this week off for students during the halfway point of each semester, students are able to take a break from their heavy working and unwind for a few days. Additionally, reading week allows students the opportunity to catch up on some schoolwork that they may be behind in, while also allowing time to work on future material for classes.
Brock is not the only school to implement a fall reading week, with many institutions offering them during contrasting times throughout the semester. While Western University’s reading week falls between Oct. 31 and Nov. 4, Queen’s University and the University of Toronto reading weeks are from Nov. 7 to Nov. 11, with Trent University’s reading week falling from Oct. 24 to Oct. 28.
Despite many post-secondary institutions in southern Ontario offering a week off for their students during the fall semester, there are many schools that have decided to opt-out of the occasion as well. The University of Guelph, for instance, only offers a reading week during its winter term, while offering a small “Fall Study Break” for its students during the Thanksgiving long weekend. Fanshawe College also avoids the week off, instead having implemented an extended long weekend during the semester, similar to the University of Guelph.
In the past, many students at Fanshawe have voiced their opinions on the importance of adding the week off to the semester in order to relieve stress, however the institution has avoided doing so in order to keep a so-called “clean” academic calendar. Guelph has also seen their fair share of complaints from students, however the university has also dismissed such opinions.
“I believe that the mental health and well-being of students is more impacted by a lack of a break in the fall than by having a week-long orientation period,” said Elise Chung in the 2018 series of comments referring to the extension of a fall break at Guelph.
The implementation of a fall reading week has much to do with matters of mental health, with many individuals needing a pause from the intense and high-pressure academic environment. The inclusion of a reading week evidently allows those who are feeling overwhelmed the opportunity to decompress and de-stress.
In 2016, 46 per cent of post-secondary students in Ontario reported feeling too depressed to fully function, while 65 per cent of students reported having overwhelming anxiety. Additionally, the number of postsecondary students with identified mental health disabilities has doubled in the last five years, with 75 per cent of mental health disorders appearing in individuals before the age of 25.
Such statistics clearly allude to the importance of including pauses during pressure-filled academic terms. Brock’s decision to apply reading week into its academic calendar calls attention to the university’s consideration of matters related to mental health and eliminating stress for its students. This motion, which has been executed by several universities in southern Ontario, begs the question if schools such as Guelph and Fanshawe should be following suit.
If you are a Brock student in need of any mental health assistance, it is recommended you visit Brock’s Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre. Those who require urgent crisis support can contact 1-833-BROCK-33 for 24/7 service.