I wish Fanshawe actually had a fall reading week

A studying schedule CREDIT: JOHAN GEORGE
As mental health awareness has been increasing for the past several years and amplified in importance over the pandemic, it's surprising that Fanshawe hasn't implemented a week-long study break.

While most universities and colleges in Ontario have a dedicated week in first term for students to take a break or catch up on classes, Fanshawe College opts for a two-day study break right before Thanksgiving weekend. The format means students have to go to classes for three out of five days that week, right before they receive their two-day study break. College instructors who have classes on Thursdays and Fridays have to accommodate for being a lesson behind other classes in their program when the study break comes around.

Fanshawe College’s Senior Vice-President of Academic Services Gary Lima previously stated that the college does this to keep a “clean calendar,” meaning that the college gets to maintain a three-week Christmas break for students who travel during December and to start the school year after Labour Day so students don’t have to pay an extra month of rent.

Other institutions however, don’t follow the same format; Conestoga College sets a “Student Success Week” from Oct. 24 - 28 and Western University does a study break from Oct. 31 to Nov. 4. In fact, most post-secondary institutions in Ontario, with very few exceptions, feature some form of week-long study break in the Fall and Winter semesters and still start and end at the same time as Fanshawe. In the 2010s, many post-secondary institutions found student mental health deteriorating and higher incident rates of student suicide, causing many of them to implement 14-week terms and most to start utilizing a week-long study break in the fall.

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“Fanshawe only has a two-day ‘study break’ the same weekend as Thanksgiving when everywhere else has a full week that’s actually around midterm and not at week five!” said Charlotte Hartman, a frustrated Music Industry Arts (MIA) student at Fanshawe.

As mental health awareness has been increasing for the past several years and amplified in importance over the pandemic, it’s surprising that Fanshawe hasn’t implemented a week-long study break, considering it’s a common source of complaints amongst students at the college.

“I think the two day long ‘study break’ is ridiculous, I don’t understand why it’s different to universities at all. It makes students feel like colleges shouldn’t be taken as seriously as universities or that we don’t work as hard,” said Meaghan Bender, another MIA student at Fanshawe.

It’s hard to understand the rationale behind the claim that their study break format allows for a “clean calendar” since several other institutions seem to maintain similar schedules and still manage to make their reading weeks actually a week long. Additionally, since the fall break comes too early into the semester at week five, it’s not very useful to students for the purpose of studying, since midterms usually occur around week six to seven. That means many students have to balance their time during Thanksgiving to revise whatever notes they have, leaving little time to take a break.

It shouldn’t take a tragedy like many other post-secondary institutions have faced for Fanshawe to implement a week-long study break at an appropriate time in the fall. It’s time for Fanshawe to implement a week-long study break to help students get the support they need in order to accomplish their academic and personal goals.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.