No first term break? Big problem The Sheaf November 4, 2013 12:00 am Opinions MEGAN FEDORCHUK University life is a creature untamed by any due date, group project or final exam. With the chaos that is the campus lifestyle, students need scheduled breaks to charge their batteries. We have a week off in the second term, but where’s our week of freedom in the first? For the majority of students, years spent earning a degree can be best depicted by a salmon swimming upstream to spawn — and this is not meant to reference your tenacious efforts to get lucky. Much like the salmon, we feel the stress and fatigue brought on by the pursuit to reach those fresh waters of employment. But unlike the salmon we do not die as a result of all our hard work, though I’m sure many of us feel death to be upon us come final exam time. Fortunately, the education system seemingly cares about our personal well-being. Universities cater to the bags underneath our eyes by closing down during holidays as well as scheduling the student-acclaimed reading week, or “spring break” if you are versed in Much Music. But why does this type of break only occur in second term? Do the stresses of the winter months outweigh those we experience in the fall? At some institutions for higher education, the fall break is already in place. According to an article appearing in the Toronto Star, “11 of Ontario’s 20 publicly funded universities have allocated a block of time in either October or November — usually ranging from two to five days.” What a concept! Honestly, it wouldn’t be too hard to give us the entire week off after Thanksgiving to recover from the turkey coma and get some homework done, nor would it be outrageous to tag on a few extra days around Remembrance Day. Of course, these missed classes must be accounted for. For example, a four-day fall break would result in something along the lines of two additional days in the months of September and December, right before and immediately following start and end class dates. Do me a favor and imagine four class-free days to break up your first term. I don’t know about you, but visions of cat naps, Netflix marathons and clean laundry are dancing about in my head right now. Yes, I realize that with a little time management, these visions could all become a reality. And yes, I am fully aware that none of these personal luxuries get me any farther ahead in regards to due dates and group projects. However, a few extra winks of sleep and some solid me-time are what allow me to hold down the sanity fort and maintain my status as a real human being. Giving students a chance to play mental catch-up can be viewed as equally, if not more beneficial, as time allotted to reading textbooks and writing papers. What individual achieves their highest potential while sleep deprived and stressed out? One can argue that university prepares students for real world demands, but at what cost? As the number of fall break offerings begin to rise in universities across the country, I can only hope that my days here at the University of Saskatchewan will be graced by the presence of a first-term breather. Until then, I’ll continue to exist in my recent Red Bull relapse. – Graphic: Stephanie Mah Anonymous Last year the U of S instituted an extra day off on the Friday before Thanksgiving — and that is deemed the ‘four-day’ weekend break from classes in the first semester. At least it’s a step in the right direction, but you didn’t even mention this extra-long weekend — albeit a whole week off would be nice … but where would the extra days be added on? Anonymous I had a prof last week ask what the classes opinion on the break was. She said that they would push classes in December back and then possibly open it up to have exams on Sundays. So that we would still finish at the same time as normal, but might have an exam on a Sunday. Doctor-Leet You know your newspaper is bad when they can’t convince me I want a vacation. Dat Bias. http://craigmcnaughton.ca Craig McNaughton A whole week is a lot. Those extra days would push December final exams to Xmas Eve. With a four-month break before the fall term and a two-week break after, I’m not sure much more than an extra-long weekend is needed. Concerned Student The U of S provides its students with a 4 day long weekend and a 3 day long weekend in first term. As a U of S student myself, I feel this is a sufficient amount of time off for a term with only 3 months of classes. Furthermore, the author should be reminded that university is not intended to be easy and without some stress. It for these reasons that a university education has prestige and clout in our society. If students are no longer forced to push themselves to achieve academic success, what value does a university education have? me One could make the argument that now that there is a Family Day holiday in February, the second term no longer requires a February break at all. Perhaps a long weekend in March to mimic the Remembrance day holiday in November and leave it at that. Jason Doell While I agree that students do need rest and relaxation in order to function properly, there are constraints that need to be addressed. 1. Starting before Labour Day is one constraint. Orientation, which is held before classes begin in Sept, is difficult to schedule and has a lower attendance rate if held in August. In order to allow students to take full advantage of the opportunities offered through this program, it needs to be in Sept and preferable after Labour Day. The University wants students to succeed and this is one of the tools offered. Starting classes in August is also a non-starter as students would need to incur added expenses, like additional rent 2. During the term, the University must also maintain a minimum number of teaching days. This can vary college by college but the norm is 62 or 63 teaching days in a term with the College of Arts & Science as an example. 3. At the other end, December exams and holidays create constraints. In order to satisfy #1 and #2 above and allow for a Fall break, exams may need to go until December 24th some years. Sundays exams could be added but that would also increase the number of religious conflicts and very few institutions allow this. It is always desirable to look outside the box. It is also nice to see students questioning established practices, which they should. Without a holistic approach though to the entire school calendar, it is not easy to change just one aspect. I am look forward to the coming discussion.