One step closer to a potential fall reading break in 2014-15

fall reading days

(Graphic by Kate Turner)

Wilfrid Laurier University moved one step closer to implementing its fall reading days on Monday, but the discussion is far from over.

After extensive discussion, the academic planning committee, a Senate sub-committee, passed a motion that will see the principle of fall study days discussed in Senate on Nov. 26.

The first motion initially called for Senate to evaluate the implementation of fall study days, but the wording was changed to reflect the need for more consultation on how the break would be realized.

“What I’m hearing is that there’s general support for the implementation of fall study days, but I think there’s still concern around the scheduling,” said Deborah MacLatchy, VP of academic and provost at Laurier.

Many committee members, representing different faculties, expressed concern about replacing Monday-Tuesday classes that the proposal recommends for the fall reading days with the Thursday-Friday of Orientation Week.

For the science department, the scheduling of labs is a potential concern. A social work faculty representative expressed concern about potential impact on practicum placements.
Some felt that it would be easier to use Thursday and Friday as study days for easier implementation at the beginning of the school year. According to student senator Chris Walker, who helped compile the proposal on fall reading days, it was found that the majority of students had the most classes in the first two days of the week. The proposal, he said, aims to “maximize value.”

“Moving forward when we try to finalize a proposal, we’ll be looking to try and have the least amount of negative logistical impact as possible as we go back to engage with deans and department heads to try to work out scheduling on the Monday-Tuesday versus the Thursday-Friday, because that seems to be the crux of the issue right now,” Walker told The Cord.

Walker, along with Stephen Franchetto and Annie Constantinescu from the Students’ Union, who have also been working on the study days proposal, will engage in further consultation before presenting a recommendation to Senate.

“We understand and we are sympathetic to the logistical issues that faculties have, so we’ll be consulting with them,” he added.

A separate document outlining the interests of the Graduate Students’ Association will also be included with the proposal, though it was not presented at the academic planning meeting.

The GSA polled its members and found that over 90 per cent were in support of fall reading days.

“A lot of times our voices aren’t necessarily included and we’re moving towards that, but I think that this document is a huge step in having these concerns included,” said GSA president Ashley Coleman. “I’m hopeful that from here on out they will be.”

A question was posed during the meeting about removing the 2014-2015 aim date for the implementation of fall study days, given the need for further discussion on the details of a trial fall break.

While this remains the target date to begin fall reading days, an approximate deadline is approaching for when a decision needs to be reached.

“We need to know in the next few months or we can’t do the academic calendar. We’ve probably got until January to say yes, 2014-2015 is a go,” said MacLatchy.

“I think where the challenge is that we’ve already delayed this for awhile and so there’s an interest in putting, I think, some fire under us, to get it going.”

A second motion was also approved, recommending that school begin the Thursday after Labour Day.

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