March 25, 2023

By Niall McCrossan, Spoke News

Students at the University of Waterloo are preparing for a vote that could extend their fall break for the next three years, according to a report from the university’s Federation of Students.

Currently, students at UW have a two-day break in October following Thanksgiving Monday. The university states that, “Students are encouraged to use these days to prepare for upcoming midterms, catch up on readings and assignments, or take time for personal wellness (e.g. catch up on sleep, exercise) to prepare for the rest of the term.”

However some students still believe that a full-week break is needed.

“I do agree with extending the fall reading week to an actual full week,” said Sarah Calado, a UW public health student. “I feel like three days (including Thanksgiving) is not enough time to actually catch up on readings and it also falls along Thanksgiving so you want to spend time with your family.

“That extra week gives you a little bit more of a break from school, because there’s a lot of pressure at school, especially since it’s also around the time of midterm season and assignments and all that work comes back to you after Reading Week, Calado added. “The work can take its toll and sometimes you don’t have time for yourself or even for other people.”

University of Waterloo student Sarah Calado believes that students would really benefit from a full reading week. Photo by Niall McCrossan, Spoke News

Midterms for students at UW often fall before the Reading Week, defeating the entire purpose of the study break.

With the upcoming referendum, students will be asked to rank the following three options:

  • Implement a full-week fall break, where classes would typically begin one day sooner, causing an exam day to be added on a Sunday during the fall term exam period. This would be a three-year pilot, beginning in fall 2019.
  • Continue with current fall break schedule.
  • Eliminate fall break, causing classes to start one week later in September.

The student federation did state that, regardless of which option is chosen, there will continue to be 60 days of class instruction each term. Students will also be voting for their preference in the length of their Orientation Week. They will be given the option to shorten the Orientation Week, extend it or maintain the current format. They will also vote to prioritize fall break or their orientation.

Although UW only has a two-day fall break, most Ontario colleges and universities currently have a full-week break. Many students at Conestoga College currently have a full-week break and many students appreciate having the extra time off.

“It’s awesome. It’s five school days to catch up on stuff if you’re behind or you can get ahead,” first-year software engineering student Jordan Wickens said. “If your exam is right after that break, it’s great because you can study that full week instead of trying to cram it into a weekend, so it’s less stressful for sure.”

First-year software engineering student Jordan Wickens is thankful for Conestoga College’s week-long break. Photo by Niall McCrossan, Spoke News

Students at UW will be voting Oct. 3-4, with the results of the referendum being announced on Oct. 5.

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