Spending Reading Week in Kingston

Reading WeekFor those who are sinking in assignments, on their last nerve as a result of midterms or otherwise experiencing a bout of the seasonal blues, rest assured that you only have one week to go. At the close of business on Friday, Kingston’s post-secondary students will be afforded an opportunity to catch up studies, sleep, or develop cirrhosis of the liver thanks to Reading Week. My memories of this glorious week are blurry at best, but suffice to say that the break from academia was certainly appreciated in terms of maintaining my sanity. Sure, I got reacquainted with the local bar scene, but blowing off a little bit of steam now and again helped me get through those dark winter months and prepare for the coming deluge of end of semester assignments and final exams. With more and more universities adopting Fall Reading Week as a means of promoting mental health, this got me thinking about our local post-secondary institutions:
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The idea of a Fall Reading Week, or whatever you prefer to call it, is something that Queen’s has considered thanks to a proposal brought forward by a student to the AMS back in 2007. Surprisingly, the idea was shot down by the student body due to scheduling concerns, which have been batted about via the Queen’s Journal:

The week of class time lost for a fall reading week would have to be allocated from somewhere…the summer might be a good option. A shortened summer holiday is a valid concern. Many students work full time during the summer months to help pay for tuition and rent. A break could result in a loss of earnings, but Queen’s starts comparatively late so it’s still possible for students to work until Labour Day even with an added reading week.

It does not appear that there will be any Fall relief for procrastinating and legitimately overworked undergrads in the near future, but is that the right move?  Would a Fall Reading Week be too big a target for more late night, riotous parties on Aberdeen, or could it legitimately give students some much needed breathing room to focus on their studies, grad school applications and so on?  I would love to collect a good mix of comments from alumni, current students on the brink of Reading Week, as well as those who went to post-secondary institutions who incorporated Fall Reading Week.

Special thanks to JSmith Photo and Sun International for supplying the ingredients for today’s photo.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

4 thoughts on “Spending Reading Week in Kingston

  • I was never one of the lucky students who could take off to the Caribbean for the week, but I knew a lot of people who did – and they were definitely not studying down there. I spent some reading weeks at home with mom and dad – brought my books, but still did a minimal amount of work – and spent some here in Kingston. No matter where I or my friends were, there wasn’t a whole lot of studying going on. I think it’s fair to say that this is the case for most students so I don’t see how another week off will is necessary. As Harvey pointed out, it could very well lead to more unwanted partying in the neighbourhoods around Queen’s and could take a toll on students who need that extra week of income in the summer to pay for school. University semesters are short – they can tough it out.

  • A Fall Reading Week is an excellent way for many students who might feel overburdened to take their mind off studyinf for a brief period and go home to reconnect with their families, which may be out of town. In particular, Queen's students often experience high amounts of pressure from their parents, teachers, and peers to perform at continually high levels, which in first-year they might not be fully accustomed to. Allocating the lost time to an already long summer break would be an ideal option. It is already four months long, and an extra week of studies heading into the break would probably not hurt their summer employment prospects unduly… at least not in Kingston as they would be competing mostly with each other for many jobs.

  • I think a fall reading week is an excellent idea, especially for first-year students who are having a hard time with the transition to university. We know that many students suffer from depression and other mental health issues, and a fall break can only help with that.

  • I'm sort of on the fence about this one. As someone who did not have a Fall Reading Week, part of me wants to say suck it up because that's what I and so many who came before me did. Having said that, such a stance does not show care and compassion for those who are truly experiencing mental health issues associated with their academic workload, being away from home etc… When researching articles for this story, I came across one that listed October and November as the busiest months for counsellors at one particular university. I would be interested to see if this trend holds steady at Queen's etc…, which would then give the argument for a Fall Reading Week a bit more justification.

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