Student opposition grows against cutting of reading days

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Student studies 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

[Updated: Dec. 13 3:33 p.m.]

Students at the University of Vermont are now taking a stand opposing the Faculty Senate’s April 13 decision to eliminate reading days starting fall 2016.

Following a  Dec. 9 Cynic article, students have organized petitions and protests in response to the removal of reading days.

Junior Alexander Collingsworth said he is organizing a student “walkout,” where students will “respectfully” walk out of class to protest.

“It’s about students having a voice,” he said.

The organizers have a Facebook group called “Give Us Back Our Reading Days!” The group had 296 members as of Dec 12.  

The walkout will be held Jan. 25 at 1 p.m., according to the group’s Facebook page.

The group’s petition had received over 1,500 signatures as of Dec. 11, Collingsworth said.

On Dec. 11, SGA President Jason Maulucci and Vice President Tyler Davis sent a letter via email to the Faculty Senate entitled “Reading Days, Mental Health and Academic Success.”

Maulucci said the email was written after he received four dozen emails from students requesting action on the schedule change.  

“After seeing the opposition behind the end to reading days, it’s our responsibility to act as the representative body of the students,” he said.

Though the Faculty Senate initially asked for an opinion from SGA during the planning process, they never asked for input on the final decision, Maulucci said.

“I think that most students are in favor of changing the date of spring break and adding a fall break, but obviously many students disagree with reading days,” he said.

Maulucci and Davis’ email was addressed to the Faculty Senate at the University of Vermont.

“It is incumbent of us to write to you and express the serious mental health and academic concerns that have arisen as a result of the decision to eliminate reading days in the fall 2016 semester,” the email stated.

As of  Dec. 11, 700 people had liked a Facebook post by Maulucci  in both the University of Vermont Class of 2017 and 2018 Facebook groups announcing to his peers that he was writing a letter addressing these concerns to UVM administration and the Faculty Senate.

Maulucci said he hopes the letter can serve as a tool for dialogue between students, faculty and administration.

SGA respects the Faculty Senate, and believes that they should have taken the care they did to hear students as they did faculty, Maulucci said.

The Faculty Senate voted to end reading days for the 2016-2017 academic year.

The Faculty Senate has the best intentions to represent the students but a letter was necessary because  students disagree with this decision, Maulucci said.

The Faculty Senate went to SGA for input in the initial planning for the schedule change in January 2015, Thomas Chittenden, the co-chair of the Faculty Senate’s Student Affairs Committee,  stated in an Dec 12 email.

The discussion with the SGA was a 75 minute healthy conversation about all of the possible calendar configurations that were being explored,” he wrote.

Additionally, feedback was taken from various organizations on campus over a ten month period, the email stated.

This story is ongoing. Please stay tuned to The Vermont Cynic on Facebook and follow @VermontCynic on Twitter to receive by-the-minute updates about the schedule change.