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Opinions | February vs. November: A comparison of mid-term breaks

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Shawna Langer/ Graphics Editor

February is notorious for its missing days and weird leap year tendencies. But this month is one of the holiest of months, containing the most coveted week of the year — Reading Week.

Now, while it’s not the only week-long break — at least not for the past five years — it’s unequivocally the best one.

The University of Saskatche­wan’s academic calendar refers to the third week of February as “Winter mid-term break,” but the week that follows Fam­ily Day is known in our hearts as Reading Week.

It’s a contradictory week where we do very little read­ing and likely engage in more suitable activities like sleeping, drinking and travelling. All the while we will keep telling ourselves that we’re going to finish the essay that is due af­ter the break or study for that looming midterm — knowing full well we will not.

Perhaps the university knows us better than we know ourselves and opted for a more realistic name. For simplicity, let’s just call it February break.

This wintery break is a per­fectly timed respite in the hellscape that is term two. It comes at the right time be­tween the rising action of the beginning of the term and the climax of our stress between midterms and finals. It’s ear­ly enough that we are able to get a grip on ourselves and the course load that is slipping through our fingers. It allows us to muster up the courage to continue on into the final stretch of the year.

February break falls a month after Blue Monday, the third Monday of January. Blue Mon­day was coined back in 2005 as the most depressing day of the year by a pseudo-psychologist hired by ad men of a trav­el agency. Blue Monday isn’t anything more than a clever marketing ploy to push trop­ical vacations, but seasonal depression or seasonal affec­tive disorder does appear to be real. And SAD makes the drudgery of mid-winter even more unbearable.

A mid-winter break, smack in the middle of our darkest hour, is one way to ease the strain on our mental and phys­ical health.

On the other hand, while full of great intentions, No­vember break falls flat. A rel­atively new addition to the academic calendar, Fall mid-term break was an initiative advocated by Max FineDay during his 2014 term as the U of S Students’ Union presi­dent. FineDay sought to find solutions to address growing mental health concerns of U of S students and another ‘reading week’ seemed like it would be a good attempt at alleviating some of the stress.

However, the November break hasn’t been as success­ful as it’s winter predecessor. For instance, professional colleges haven’t been able to make time in their packed schedules to allow for this break. Instead of a week off, students in medicine, nurs­ing, dentistry and vet med get a “fall long weekend” around Thanksgiving.

Arguably, the students in these colleges are some of the individuals who need a break the most. There have been concerns raised in recent years about the mental health of med students with advo­cates calling for solutions. It was reported that, as recent­ly as December 2019, a med student from the University of Ottawa died by suicide, an incident that demands more attention be paid to student’s mental health.

While professional stu­dents are being cheated out of a much needed break in No­vember, the rest of us aren’t benefiting much either. The break comes much too late in the term to be an effective re­lief. The mid-term break falls more accurately at the end of term, just weeks away from finals. It is a point in the se­mester where we are already burnt out.

While any week off of class­es is a great week, November break can leave us feeling less motivated instead of rejuve­nated. It is a week where you feel like giving up and not re­turning to campus — the very opposite of what it is sup­posed to do. If fall mid-term break actually landed in Oc­tober, the true middle point of term, then February break may have some competition.

But for now, that glorious mid-winter week off is still the GOAT.

This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a rebuttal, please email

Erin Matthews/ Opinions Editor

Graphic: Shawna Langer/ Graphics Editor

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