Three days before University of Guelph-Humber students vote for a fall Reading Week, they were invited to IGNITE’s information session structured as a debate on Wednesday.
Ammar Abdul-Raheem, IGNITE Vice-President of Student Life at the North campus, was the moderator while the event was livestreamed to Facebook, with over 1,600 views.
While there were two people representing both the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ side, the members didn’t necessarily support the side they were on, and were only debating for the purposes of relaying information.
While Humber College students were this year accorded two days off attached to the Thanksgiving long weekend to create a five-day break, Guelph-Humber, which has a shorter semester, does not have such an interval in fall.
Both schools have a week-long Reading Week in February. Should a fall Reading Week be implemented, it could extend the semester until closer to the December holiday period.
“The good thing about this debate is that we’re able to show real situations or facts, the pros and cons of it,” says Maja Jocson, Vice-President of Student Affairs at Guelph-Humber, who also advised both sides in the debate.
One point that was brought up repeatedly during the debate was the potential mental health benefits to having a reading break.
The ‘yes’ side said the extra days would allow students to relieve stress and shop for school supplies. The ‘no’ side said there is no proven correlation between a reading break and improved mental health. It’s also possible that increased homework during an implemented reading break would create increased mental stress.
According to the information session it would take at least two years for changes to come into effect if the student body voted ‘yes’, due to the decision being brought before the Guelph University senate in addition to other levels of authority.
“We’re thinking about the future students,” said Amelia Savoie, who was arguing for the ‘yes’ side. “We need to decide what is the most appropriate measure for our student body.”
“I want to ensure that students are not disenfranchised because of how long the process takes,” said Abdul-Raheem. “Whether the process takes long or not, it shouldn’t disenfranchise you from making the right decision.”
Ben Eppel, Promotions Assistant for IGNITE who debated for the ‘no’ side, agrees with this sentiment.
“A lot of people complain about things but don’t actually participate. The only way to change things is to do your part and let your voice be heard.”