Humber College students remain hopeful the school will join the ranks of post-secondary institutions such as Ryerson University in having a fall reading week and the notion has tentative support from Humber’s top administrator.
Humber President and CEO Chris Whitaker notes many colleges and universities have been moving towards having a fall reading week, an academic custom more prevalent in Ontario than elsewhere in Canada.
“I like the idea of having a reading week because it helps students with the stress of the semester,” Whitaker said.
He also said it would help Humber College staff and faculty as well.
“We have committed to having a look at how we might proceed with a fall reading week. We haven’t committed to one at this point but we are exploring it,” he said.
As Whitaker alludes to, come mid-October, many students are coping with school-related stress from an extensive number of midterm assignments and exams.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is also a factor, as the months become colder and darker. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association the weather can have an effect on our moods. The association’s website discusses that this is a clinical depression that some people may be susceptible to during the fall and can last until spring.
Deputy registrar and enrolment management services staff member Clay MacDougall said the hesitation on creating a fall reading week has to do with eroding academic integrity.
MacDougall said the academic calendar is already too short to add a Fall Reading Week and that extending the school year is also a problem.
Humber faculty union chief steward Robert Mills has been a part of OPSEU for more than 20 years. He said that a fall reading week would negatively affect finances for faculty and staff who are on partial load, part-time and sessional contracts.
Mills said staff on contract would not be paid for the week unless a new contract was to be drawn up.
He said in the late ‘80s the academic school year consisted of 16 weeks and it is now 15 weeks. Mills said if the school year were to be compressed to incorporate a fall reading week, the school year could be down to 14 weeks.
“That would be terrible,” Mills said.
He said more material would be cut out but students will still be paying current high levels of tuition.
Early Childhood Education post-graduate student Kathleen Gray said she would like to have a fall reading week because all of her friends have one.
Gray said she would use this time to have a social life because she lacks one now due to her workload.