Reading days cut starting in fall

Students will have five consecutive days of exams starting fall semester 2016.

Reading days will be removed, UVM officials say.

This new schedule change is due to a resolution passed by the Student Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate.

Some students said they are upset by the idea of eliminating reading days.

“Thank God I’m leaving, are they nuts?” senior Danielle Manginelli said.

“I need stress relief and I need to study and that’s what reading days are for,” Manginelli said.

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Students study in Bailey/Howe Library Dec. 5. The UVM Faculty Senate Committee on Student Affairs proposed a resolution to reschedule reading days. OLIVER POMAZI/ The Vermont Cynic

There is an increase in alcohol and marijuana violations and student detoxes on reading days, according to the Brief Alcohol Screening Intervention for College Students Program, said Jeff Rettew, assistant director of LivingWell.

B.A.S.I.C. is a motivational intervention program for students with multiple alcohol offenses, according to the Center for Health and Wellbeing.

Jon Porter, Director of the Center for Health and Wellbeing, said he is concerned about the Naked Bike Ride, which occurs on the last day of classes.

“Naked Bike Ride worries me every year just based on what we see in terms of detoxes and physical injuries, ranging through interpersonal violence and inappropriate sexual contact,” Porter said.

He said it is a positive thing if students do not end their semester partying with drugs and alcohol.

“I was there when the Faculty Senate voted on it, and I think there was a lot of agreement for the reasons we’ve talked about: stress during the semester, giving students a release valve in October and that long week- end,” Porter said. “Like every change, we have to see how it works.”

First-year Tim Smith believes more students use reading days to study than party.

“Even though some people take advantage of them to party or whatever, the number of people who do use them is worth keeping them,” Smith said. “I don’t think the benefits [of removing reading days] outweigh the drawbacks.”

Sophomore Bonny Filker also said finals are stressful.

“Finals are the most stressful time,” Filker said. “I desperately need [reading days].”

Sophomore Madeleine Cary expressed similar sentiments.

“Weekends are distracting, you’re working, you’re seeing friends,” Cary said. “Reading days are my lifeblood. I am 110 percent against this.”

Junior Leo McCarthy believes the schedule change will affect students’ grades.

“It’s not worth it, even for a shorter school year. I would ask for more Reading Days, even if finals go later into the year,” McCarthy said.

“Binge drinking is going to happen either way,” he said. “People use those days for sleep, too, no one’s going to be rested, and our grades are going to get worse.”

When looking at the change the Faculty Senate allotted a 3-day break for mental health, while still maintaining a week long Thanksgiving break, Thomas

Chittenden, the co- chair for the Faculty Committee for Student Affairs said.

The faculty also spoke to SGA to get their input, he said.

“I went to SGA last January and presented these topics and got their feedback. It was a healthy conversation,” Chittenden said.

One thing that SGA brought to the conversation was to include a shift in spring break, SGA President Jason Maulucci said.

SGA wanted students to have the opportunity to participate in Town Meeting Day, Maulucci said.

There was no follow-up or vote from the faculty committee to SGA with the final decision, he said.

Registrar Keith Williams said he is proud that SGA was included in the schedule change.

“The fall break day was very important to the SGA, along with balancing the instructional days between the fall and spring semesters, something had to give,” he said.

“The debate was lengthy, there was a lot of concern for the stress of students,” Williams said.

Another change is a fall recess of one day Oct. 16 starting fall 2016, according to the academic calendar.