Mixed reactions to fall reading week

[O]n Thanksgiving Monday, Ryerson students will breathe sighs of relief as the school’s first fall reading week kicks off. Those enrolled in engineering though can be thankful only for a longer semester and a campus to themselves. They are exempt from the break.

Implementing time off during first semester has been a topic under review by Ryerson’s senate since 2010. Last March, they decided there would be no class from October 8 to 12 this year, giving the autumn session 12 weeks instead of 13. The Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science opted out of the reading week saying they needed more than a dozen weeks to teach course content.

“We cannot have a break or something would be missing,” says Lamya Amleh, director of first year and common engineering. “We don’t have enough weeks to deliver all the lectures. It’s as simple as that.”

Some programs in the Community Services and the Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD) also had qualms with a tighter teaching timeline but managed to find a way to condense the semester, leaving the engineers alone on campus for the days post turkey dinners.

But is it fair for one group of students to be at school while the rest are catching up on work and relaxing? Engineering students Edward Jupe, third year, and Alexander Schenkel, first year, don’t mind plugging through for the four months.

“Personally, I wouldn’t want any extended weekends or holidays because it means that some material gets cut out or squished into other lectures,” says Jupe.

Schenkel isn’t stressed about the lack of a reading week and says he understands the faculty’s decision to opt out. “I don’t think it will affect me,” he says, adding that “the course load is a lot bigger than other faculties.”

This isn’t to say that Ryerson engineers will be the only ones hard at work. Students at the journalism school, another demanding program at our university and member of the FCAD, say that having five days without scheduled classes only shifts the focus off of class and onto more diligent reporting. Second year student Rhee Joseph says that the “time off” will be used to put more energy into the New York music publication that she writes for.

Steven Tzemis , also in second year, says that an assigned long form feature article comes with a heavy workload and requires students to revisit a specific location a number of times – something that can be hard to pull off when attending lectures daily.

“When we’re in school it’s tough to make this a priority,” he says. He will be taking advantage of the free days to give his article a lot of attention.
Come Thanksgiving Monday, Ryerson students will have joined the majority of Ontario university scholars in the fall reading week. But, really, it’s up to you how you use up that time.