Many Mount Royal University students say they were conflicted about having to take a week off from classes when they’d only been attending for one month.
Second-year nursing student Lorraine Blight says although it was nice to have a fall reading week, it came too early.
“I almost feel like it caused a majority of my classes to have two midterms instead of just one,” she says.
Although MRU already has a winter reading week following the Family Day long weekend, the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU) lobbied for the first-ever fall reading week in hopes of improving mental health on campus.
But athletic therapy student Parker Olfert says the break was unnecessary and threw him off.
“I was slowly getting into the rhythm, and all of a sudden, taking this week off, everything is out of place again.”
Olfert says he understands how the break might benefit some, but adds it’s important to learn how to fight through the difficultieswithout time off.
“This is how university works; it gets hard at this point and time.”
Although Olfert did homework for one of the days off, he says he didn’t have a lot to do.
“I was kind of bored honestly,” he says.
Student Travis Walsh says the reading week would have made more sense in November.
“Honestly I just picked up a couple of extra shifts. I didn’t really have to work on any schoolwork because there wasn’t really that much yet,” he says.
Phil Warsaba, associate vice president of enrolment services at MRU, says while administration supported the new fall reading week as a way to help with student success, it was hard to schedule.
“Within our academic scheduling policy, we have a requirement to deliver a minimum number of instructional days,” says Warsaba, which made finding the right time of the semester difficult with statutory holidays or paid days off.
The first day of classes was Sept. 7, the last Dec. 11. Warsaba explains that although October seemed early to some, the break was in the middle of classes.
Warsaba says when the fall reading week was approved, MRU was the only Calgary-based institution with a full week off of classes.
Students’ association vice-president academic Cordelia Snowdon says she’s looking for more feedback from students after receiving an even split of those who were able to use the early break to catch up, and others who thought it was too soon.
“I’ve had some students in November where they’re like, ‘I’m neck-deep and I need some time.’”
For Snowdon, it’s clear that the new fall break is here to stay.
“It’s not a question if we get rid of the week, it’s – is it beneficial where it is?” Snowdon asks.
Both Snowdon and Warsaba are seeking student feedback and reviewing data as they decide when to offer fall reading week in the future.
- By Deanna Tucker