Fall reading break is a year away. Here’s how students would benefit

As assignments, project deadlines and final exams loom, students say next year’s fall reading break will be crucial in helping students blow off some steam and catch up on studying.

On May 28, the UBC Vancouver Senate passed a motion to add a fall term reading break after decades of student lobbying. The reading break will take place the week of Remembrance Day, with the change taking effect in the 2021/22 academic year.

Second-year psychology student Nitya Mahajan said she was concerned about how online classes have increased the workload for students and how it has affected her mentally. The 12-and-a-half-hour difference between Vancouver and her home country, India, is the major contributing factor.

“I will not lie, but initially it was really tough to handle everything because there is a different life I have here at my home, and studying at UBC online is completely a different thing in itself,” said Mahajan.

“I am a dancer and dance really helps me calm myself down, so I focus myself and I made it a point that I work out and I dance for a minimum of an hour everyday so that I can release the stress.”

She hopes to use fall reading break next year to give herself a break to catch up on her assignments, research papers and finals studying.

For third-year psychology student Khushi Mehta, fall reading break would be a welcome breather. She raised concerns that the proposed duration of the reading break may not be enough time for some students and that UBC could give a week-long reading break.

“A lot of universities across Canada have a fall reading break that is one week long and we have a spring reading break, which is one week long,” said Khushi.

Unlike spring reading break, UBC will only be adding two days off the week of Remembrance Day to create a long weekend. The Senate weighed having an extended Thanksgiving weekend so students could prepare for midterms. However, senators landed on mid-November ahead of finals.

Eshana Bhangu, student senator, said that a week-long break will most probably not happen next year. She also shared that with UBC being the university with the second lowest number of teaching days among other major universities across Canada, UBC was in a bind to find time for the break. The university had shrunk exam period from 16 days down to 12 days, including Sundays.

According to Bhangu, a member of the Senate academic policy committee, as of now there is no implementation plan because fall reading break is still a year away. However, she said that once more information becomes available, Senate would communicate it to students.

“Even the spring reading break, if you go back to the first year it was implemented, it started off as an extended weekend,” said Bhangu. “So if we’re a little more optimistic with our view on the fall reading break, it is just a first step. The student senators won’t stop advocating … and maybe a few years down the line, we will advocate to extend it.”