Having finally reached week five of Term One tired, full of cold and in need of a gigantic nap, I could not be more content with the arrival of Reading Week. Going home was just what I needed, even if it meant lugging a heavy suitcase full of books all the way from Exeter to Paddington, via the tube, before finally arriving home. However, to say that reading week is a holiday is definitely untrue; as a student of English Literature, I have an extensive tower of books to make my way through in order to prepare for a huge essay that will be set as soon as I return to Exeter.
to say that reading week is a holiday is definitely untrue
I can definitely appreciate why students with large reading-loads are given a reading week. It can be difficult to fit in time during term to trudge through an expansive reading list whilst keeping on top of your essays, lectures and seminars, as well as finding time to maintain a social life and the daily household chores that include keeping yourself fed and clothed, as well as potentially working a part-time job and trying to complete tasks that make you more employable. Certainly, students with large reading lists definitely deserve a reading week.
But what about the students studying for less reading-focused degrees? In my house, my housemates and I study a variety of different courses; English, Languages, Geography, Philosophy and Natural Science. Two thirds of us have been given a reading week, while the other third has had to remain behind, continuing with a regular week of study. This strikes me as unfair for two reasons. Firstly, the housemate who is studying philosophy has quite a large volume of reading to get through for his course and yet somehow he has not qualified for a reading week. Secondly, the housemate who studies Natural Science, despite not having a great deal of reading to complete, regularly works around the clock to complete piles and piles of coursework which is set weekly.
Surely everyone deserves a break during the three month slog of Term One
Each of us has been tired and ill and in need of a rest. Surely everyone deserves a break during the three month slog of Term One, whether or not they have to read their way through a small library. It has been suggested to The Student Guild previously that a reading week for all students during Term One should be introduced, and perhaps even to introduce a second Reading Week during Term Two. The impassioned anonymous campaigner stated, “…the terms are too long and by the end of it you’re exhausted and lack motivation for usually a busy time when hand-ins are abundant… Rest is essential and it would allow students to maintain motivation throughout the semester and thus achieve a higher standard of work.” (Anonymous) I certainly think that they’re onto something. Perhaps it is time to introduce an all-inclusive Reading Week and make sure that all students make it to Christmas without burning themselves out.
Quote from https://www.exeterguild.org/change/ideas/idea102-readingweek/, cited on 24th October 2016