Fall reading break referendum passes

Students have spoken — well 4,600 of them did — in support of the fall reading break referendum.
The question put to a vote was: “Should classes start on the first Thursday after Labour Day to allow for two additional days off in the fall term?”

The next step is for Feds to present the referendum results to the university senate, who will take them into consideration when voting on the 2015-2016 academic calendar. Stephane Hamade, Feds VP education, said that it is unlikely that the two-day break would be adopted for the upcoming year’s calendar and, if accepted by senate, would be implemented the following year.

“I think it’s clear what the students want and 74 per cent is quite a large number of students,” Hamade said.

In total, approximately 6,000 students voted, roughly 20 per cent of the undergraduate population.

Hamade said that the late Labour Day in September 2015 and the higher number of exam days UW has compared to other schools are both factors in the unlikelihood of a reading break next year.

Hamade was impressed by the voter turnout for the referendum, which was called as the result of a motion passed at Feds’ March general meetings.

&ldquo;Oftentimes when it&rsquo;s not around an exec election, the referendum [turnout] can be a little lower, so it was good to see so many students decide to vote,&rdquo;<br />
Hamade said. Voting took place online and in the SLC from Nov. 4 to 7 and was open to students in classes and on co-op.

Wilfrid Laurier University held its first fall reading break this October; they gave students a full week off after Thanksgiving, jumping on a bandwagon that many Ontario universities have been on for years. Laurier&rsquo;s break is on a three-year trial phase, after which it will be reevaluated.

&ldquo;We felt that it was very difficult to fit a whole week into the academic calendar,&rdquo; Hamade said on why Feds is going after a two-day break instead of five.&nbsp; &ldquo;This is something we felt was more likely to work with senate.&rdquo;

February reading breaks are standard in public universities across Ontario, but UW&rsquo;s calendar is structured different than most due to co-op, meaning that many students go a year or more without any reading break.

As the referendum question states, if UW senate is in favour of a fall reading break, fall term classes will begin two days earlier.&nbsp; Laurier experienced the same change to accommodate for their fall reading break.

Feds&rsquo; orientation and community events manager Becky Wroe said that UW housing and the university colleges have agreed to bump moving day to the Saturday before Labour Day. That would allow for O-week programming to begin a day early. Wroe said in a recent information meeting that proposed schedules have been created to re-arrange Feds and academic programming for O-week if the week was cut short.

Hamade was unsure if a breakdown of votes by faculty would be released. The results will be presented at a senate meeting Nov. 17.


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