USG Permanent Reading Days Petition Advocates for Student Mental Health

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The University of Connecticut’s Undergraduate Student Government is promoting permanent reading days to the academic calendar, according to the @usguconn Instagram page.  

A reading day states that instructors may not hold classes or assign any course work during that time period, according to the Office of the Provost website. 

USG has a live Change.org petition in its Instagram bio for UConn students to show their support towards the permanent reading days. This is the first proposed step in response to B Diaz’s Mental Care Act that passed through USG in fall 2020, according to the Change.org petition homepage. These reading days would act as a period for students to recharge and catch up with their studies.  

“The mental health of our students must be prioritized campus wide and outlets for recharge must be given for students to be able to be their best, personally and academically,” according to the @usguconn Instagram post. “This change will only provide benefit and enrichment to students’ semesters and allow for well-being to be prioritized, as it should be.”  

In the proposed plan, the traditional finals “week” will be split into two weeks with six reading days. To account for this extended finals week, the semester will have 13 weeks of classes.  

“Under the new plan, there would be two reading days on Monday and Tuesday, then three finals on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday… That weekend (Saturday and Sunday) and following Monday and Tuesday would be reading days. The last three days of finals would follow on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and then the semester would end.” 

USG Petition

“Under the new plan, there would be two reading days on Monday and Tuesday, then three finals on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday,” according to the petition. “That weekend (Saturday and Sunday) and following Monday and Tuesday would be reading days. The last three days of finals would follow on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and then the semester would end.”  

Additional reading days were first implemented at the end of the fall 2020 semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Office of the Provost website. 

Hazel Montano, an eight-semester applied and resource economics major, said she greatly benefitted from the reading weeks at the end of last semester.   

“It was helpful for me last semester and I noticed how I did not stress as much for my exams because of the reading days,” Montano said. “I was more relaxed and more confident going into my exams.”  

Montano said she had two weeks of reading days when she studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She thinks three to five reading days would be sufficient for UConn, as she lost motivation during the end of the two week period.  

“It was amazing. We had plenty of time to gather our thoughts, relax, actually do our readings and practice. And, it allowed us plenty of time to meet up with study groups,” Montano said. “There were no time constraints, no classes or anything, so we were able to have study groups.”  

“It was amazing. We had plenty of time to gather our thoughts, relax, actually do our readings and practice. And, it allowed us plenty of time to meet up with study groups”

Hazel Montano, Eighth-semester applied & resource economics major

Carina Scher, a sixth-semester civil engineering major, said she supports the petition as it would give her time to digest the material taught in the last week of classes.  

“It’s difficult to study for finals when you still have homework assignments and lectures to attend the previous week,” Scher said. “ The reading days and week split would give us the necessary time to focus solely on the exams at hand and have an overall better experience – with less stress and hopefully better grades.”  

Emma Geissert, an eighth-semester psychological sciences major, said permanent reading days would give her the opportunity to start studying for her exams when she would prefer to do so.  

“Often, professors assign final projects and big papers that are due the last day of classes, and without reading days, we’d only have two or three days between those due dates and the first day of finals,” Geissert said. “I’ve heard recommendations of starting to study two to three weeks before finals, and with the end of the semester being cram-time for assignments, this just can’t always happen.”  

Gabrielle Schaufler, a fourth-semester transfer student, said she thinks it would be more beneficial to having reading days scattered throughout the semester instead of only during finals week.  

“I feel like we have enough reading days normally during finals week. Rather than adding more at the end of the semester for cramming, it might be better to have some randomly throughout so students have a chance to catch up and really understand what they’re doing closer to when they’re learning it,” Schaufler said.  

The petition has 288 signatures at the time of reporting. 

Thumbnail photo courtesy of Matthew Pickett / The Daily Campus.

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