Recommended by the University’s Mental Health Strategy and Brock University’s Student Union, this year Brock University has started implementing a three year trial for fall reading week to provide the students with a mental health break. The trial is being held to see if there is a noticeable difference in student mental health because of fall reading week. As a student, there is nothing that I hate about a week off from classes, seminars, and deadlines. However, is fall reading week really the key to relieving stress?
The claim made to have fall reading week at Brock University is that it helps support student success and their mental health. Several universities across Ontario have currently adopted the same method for the same reasons, while those who haven’t already done so have been considering it. The idea behind fall reading week is to prevent the amount of stress that some students go through, stress levels which apparently deteriorate mental health. Therefore, the idea is that by providing a week off from school, it gives the students a break between their midterms and their finals where they don’t have to stress over school.
As great as it is that Brock is taking initiative in investing in our students’ health, does a week off from school really make a difference? The trial has produced a lot of mixed feelings. Many Brock students have stated how great the idea of a fall break is for mental health. Second-year Sports Management student Sarah Spencer says, “I am looking forward to fall reading week because it gives students a chance to relax after a few midterms but still provides us time to prepare for upcoming ones as well.”
However, there are also just as many students who don’t find the idea of a fall break all that appealing. “We’ve only been in school a month and we already need a break?” says second-year Public Health student Emily Waghorne.
Because of fall reading week, the professors are also forced to work around it. Seeing that it is midterm season and assignments are being assigned in all courses, it’s that much more stressful to have to worry about getting it all in on time before the break. Even if it is due after the break, the week that we have to take off from school, we don’t really have off- we’re still working on school work. The amount of work that is being assigned still remains the same, the only thing that has changed is the due date, so really- how does that reduce stress levels?
Many of the professors have been assigning assignments and holding midterms right before the break. With one week off from lectures they also lose a week of teaching, so when do we learn that material? Well, it will most likely get crammed into a few lectures when we get back so we’re all caught up. With course material moving by faster than usual, that can also seem a little stressful for a student.
As well, the amount of time we have off isn’t all that significant. Reading week is a whole week, but thanksgiving is also included in our time off, so really we only have four days off from school. This year at Brock, school also started a week earlier than most other universities and colleges in Ontario. By giving us a week off while adding more school time to our schedules, how is that providing students with a mental health break?
Personally, I don’t see how a week off from school is better for students’ health. Time is not necessarily a determining factor for better mental health, but school work definitely is. If anything, an extra week off school just adds more time for worrying and stressing over future assignments and midterms. If reading week meant not having to actually work on any school work for the time we do have off, that would be a different story, but in University that is also almost impossible. There is always something to work on, look over, or study until the final exam is over. As nice as it is to see Brock trying to make a difference and help out the school, I think it’s also important to see whether or not their efforts are actually paying off.