UPEI approves fall break for students

Next year students at UPEI will have some extra time off during the fall semester.

The university's senate approved a fall semester reading week at a meeting on Friday.

UPEI has always had a reading week in the winter semester, said Kathy Gottschall-Pass, UPEI's interim vice-president academic and research, and students had been lobbying for a break in the first semester, as well.

"They saw a need for having a bit of a break in the fall, an opportunity for students to catch up on assignments, an opportunity for them to perhaps travel home to take a break before midterms start and kind of the craziness of the second part of the semester began."

Fall semester reading weeks are becoming common at universities. Dalhousie, UNB, Mount Allison, Acadia, St. F. X., and Cape Breton University all have fall reading weeks.

The first fall reading week at UPEI will be during the week of Thanksgiving 2020.

Number of teaching days won't change

Gottschall-Pass said the fall reading week will not shorten the number of teaching days, 60, per semester. She said the school semester will start one day early next year, and other days off around Remembrance Day will be rescheduled to accommodate the break.

She said faculty have been generally supportive of the change.

If they need that time to relax after studying consistently for a few weeks then so be it. - Sweata Daboo

"Certainly faculty that are working with students all the time and teaching them during the semester, they see that students can get quite stressed around the mid of the semester just before midterms start," she said. 

"So they're very supportive of giving them an opportunity to step back for a bit to catch up on their work to prepare for midterms."

'Exciting for us'

Sweta Daboo, vice-president of academic and external with the student union, said students were in favour of having a reading week in the fall.

"This is something that we proposed to the university senate and it just got approved last week, which is very exciting for us," she said.

Steve Bruce/CBC

Some suggest that fall reading week is a time for students to party, Daboo said, but students are adults and it is up to them to decide on how to spend their time.

"If they need that time to relax after studying consistently for a few weeks then so be it."

A time to 'step back'

Fall reading week will take place right before the last day students can drop classes, Daboo said.

"We are hoping that, you know, students will have a little bit of time to step back and relax. And that this might improve the university retention rates and the students' success rates," she said.

Daboo said the hope is fall reading week will help to reduce stress, allow students to assess their mental health and set them up for success.

"A lot of students are very excited about it," Daboo said.

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