By Ayshat Abdurzakova
With engineering students currently only benefiting from one reading week, some students say that adding an additional one may relieve stress and help their organization throughout the semester.
In its January Board of Directors Meeting (BoD), the Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU) discussed the possibility of an extra reading week, as previously reported by The Eyeopener.
Specifically, the TMSU discussed working toward a fall reading week for engineering students, who currently do not have one, according to the university’s website.
TMU’s fall study week is from Oct. 11 to Oct. 14 and the mid-winter break is Feb. 20 to Feb. 24 this year. However, engineering students only observe the winter reading week.
These dates also combine existing statutory holidays—like Thanksgiving weekend and Family Day, respectively.
Alana Teejai, a first-year engineering student, said the lack of free time engineering students have due to their rigorous school schedules can cause stress.
“Every weekend, I’m always busy, I can’t really go out. When I get home it’s super late,” she said. “An entire week to catch up on things I put away or put off would be nice or [to] just prioritize other things would be nice.”
Amy Zhu, a second-year engineering student, sees the lack of a reading week as unfair.
“I hope they give us a break,” she said. “When everyone else is having fun and we’re stuck at school, it’s not a good feeling,” she said.
Mikayel Baghouzian, a second-year chemical engineering student at TMU, said a study week in the fall would benefit all students.
“Study break helps out a lot. Just to catch up, get all your work done,” he said.
“I feel like the one week, it’s too rushed”
According to the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board, as of the 2021-22 accreditation cycle, engineering students must complete a minimum of 1850 accreditation units (AU) over the course of a school year in seven mandatory categories. One AU is equivalent to one hour. The student must meet the AU requirements in order to be accredited as an engineer upon graduation.
“This is one of the reasons that you have engineering students, who always start the winter term ahead of the rest. It’s not because we want them to do it, it actually was imposed by the accreditation requirements for engineering,” said TMU president Mohamed Lachemi.
Students in other programs also say that an additional reading week would benefit them.
Leila Boyacheck, a second-year early childhood studies student, said having an additional week on top of the existing reading week would help students organize themselves better for exams.
“I feel like the one week, it’s too rushed,” she said.
First-year child and youth care student Tharini Jeyakumar, said an extra week could promote attending class instead of skipping class to study for exams when it’s close to the examination period.
“We [the students] don’t know if we should actually go in [to class] and if you’re going to learn something,” she said.
“I would love it…even if it makes the [school] year a bit longer,” said Boyachek.
“Something will have to give in order to make this happen”
As of now, some students feel the crossover of reading week and official holidays is troublesome because they have to prioritize their studies over family downtime.
“It is inconvenient that reading week falls on weekends and statutory holidays,” said Boyacheck in a follow-up email. “Many times I feel like I have to choose between family and school.”
In order for an additional study break to be instated, the TMSU must bring forward a plan to the Student Senate, which is a group of elected graduate students, alumni and faculty who discuss and work to improve student life, according to TMU’s website.
But before they can do so, the students’ union said it needs to account for how many students are willing to add an extra week of classes elsewhere in the year.
“Something will have to give in order to make this happen,” said TMSU president Marina Gerges at the January BoD meeting.
“Currently, the TMSU is taking preliminary steps and researching the issue in order to lay the groundwork on how to best prepare future teams to carry on this project,” the TMSU said, in an emailed statement to The Eye.
Lachemi added that there are many factors to consider when issuing study breaks.
“The reality is that the university semesters are based on curriculum and materials that must be covered in order to achieve the result for each course,” he said to The Eye.
“We cannot take any risk to lower the minimum requirements for programs because that can also affect the quality of accreditation or the results of the accreditation from some of our programs,” Lachemi said.
“I will not close the idea of having conversations or consultations, but we have to be realistic about the requirements of programs,” President Lachemi concluded his statement.
Despite the hopefulness among students surrounding this possibility, they are still cautious about getting their hopes up.
“Honestly, will [TMU] even listen to us?” Boyachek said.
“I hope they do for students because I know it can be really helpful for other people. I’m hopeful but I’m realistic,” she said.