Western's Senate will be debating a motion next Friday on whether or not the University will introduce a Fall Reading Week for the 2017-18 school year.
According to the agenda, the week-long break would be introduced in conjunction with Thanksgiving for a two-year trial period. It will begin at 6:00 p.m. on the Friday prior to Thanksgiving Monday and end at midnight on the following Sunday.
This means that the new break will officially start on Tuesday, Oct. 10 and end on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. But essentially, students will be off from Saturday, Oct. 7 to Sunday, Oct. 15.
Jamie Cleary, vice-president of the University Students' Council, said the break was one Team Avila's major platform points and one of the USC's key initiatives over the last summer. In October, Cleary sat on the a Senate ad hoc subcommittee that formed to look at the logistics of an extended fall break.
"It’s not something we did alone," said Cleary. "It really was a collaborative effort and that’s why we’re here, hopefully heading into a successful vote on Friday."
Harry Orbach-Miller, the chair of the Western student senators and also a member of the Senate's fall reading week subcommittee, echoed Cleary's statements. He pointed out that the Faculty of Health Sciences Students' Council's (FHSSC) advocacy was essential. Back in October, FHSSC's president, Riley Garno, started a petition to support a Fall Reading Week for 2017 that ended up with close to 6,000 online signatures.
"In general, the Faculty of Health Science Students' Council has been so tremendous in pushing for this," he said. "It just shows that when students come to the table and say 'this is important to us' year after year, something will get done."
In the motion, it proposes that the "Structure of the Academic Year" and policies on "Evaluation of Academic Performance" and "Adding and Dropping Courses" will also be revised. Orbach-Miller mentioned a benefit of the fall Reading Week is that it will push back Western's deadline to drop courses by a week.
The committee found that 75 per cent of universities in Ontario and 61 per cent of the universities nation-wide "scheduled four or more study days during the fall." To accommodate the 62 required lecture days in the term, classes may end two days later in the fall term.
Orbach-Miller said there's no better way for Western to support students than for the Senate to show its support the Fall Reading Week.
"At the end of the day, a lot of students feel like their voices aren’t heard on this campus, or they aren’t valued, and I can’t think of any better way for faculty and administration to say 'we value your voices and we’re listening' than passing this."