Starting next year, a new fall reading week will be introduced as a three-year pilot program. Students will receive a full week off following Thanksgiving weekend in addition to the existing winter reading week. As registrar Ray Darling explains, the initiative hopes to improve the students’ mental health.

“There has been a lot of focus that we need to stress that this is a study break,” Darling says. “But in terms of mental health aspects there’s nothing wrong with having a break. For most students, they will probably study. Some will just not do anything and if that helps them, that’s great.”

The new proposal is for all undergraduate and graduate students, though, as Darling notes, it is aimed predominantly towards first-year students.

“The first term for first-year students is probably the most important of all their terms,” said Darling. “So it just seemed wise to give them a break in their first term.”

The new reading week means that classes will start slightly earlier and orientation week will also be affected. Instead of starting on Monday, classes will begin the first Thursday following Labour Day for the next three years. Orientation week will still run from Monday to Friday, though it will have a different structure. Alicia Appleby explains the new format and how it may help the students.

“It will be more passive programming on Thursday and Friday,” says Appleby. “I think that it will benefit them. They don’t actually get to experience class during orientation week. Now they will be able to go to class and ask questions to their ice-breakers. It will be a nice transition.”

The proposal was initially rejected by the Wilfrid Laurier University Senate three years ago. Students at that time were not supportive of a shortened orientation week, according to Darling. This time around, students showed a keen interest towards the fall reading week, according to Appleby.