Petition: Reading Period is in Jeopardy

Petition here. It has acquired over 250 signatures as of this writing, less than an hour after its release. [Update 5:27PM: well over 500 signatures.]

Every five years, Wesleyan creates a new five-year calendar for the next cycle. This year is one of those years. Wesleyan is in the process of creating a new calendar that will be in effect for the 2014-2015 academic year. Unfortunately… some things might be changing. Like Spring Fling. And Reading Week. Which could now be mashed together by rapidly moving forces. WSA President Zach Malter ’13 explains in greater detail:

Dear Students,

At the upcoming faculty meeting, on this coming Tuesday, December 4th, the faculty are scheduled to vote on a 5-year academic calendar that would eliminate a day for spring flingschedule spring fling during reading period, and effectively reduce the number of days in reading period. These changes would go into effect either next year or in the near future and would stay in place for the subsequent five years.

The WSA unanimously passed a resolution against effectively shortening reading week, one of the few resolutions in recent memory to receive such broad support. We are deeply concerned that effectively shortening reading period will compromise students’ ability to study and learn, undermining the academic experience especially for students who choose to be most studious during this time. This change would also increase student stress levels and stress-induced negative behaviors, jeopardize student mental health, and exacerbate moving out difficulties in particular for international students and for students without cars. Nevertheless, the Educational Policy Committee (EPC), composed mostly of faculty, has elected to bring this change forward to a vote on Tuesday. This decision was the only calendar-related decision that the EPC did not survey the community on. At the very least, there needs to be more discussion before the decision is finalized, before reading period is effectively shortened for the next five years.

 The WSA Executive Committee has created THIS PETITION to protest the effective shortening of reading week and to ask the faculty to delay its vote on this section of the calendar.

We also encourage you to talk with faculty members about your concerns with this proposal, and to come confer with faculty members outside the meeting room on Tuesday at 4:05, right outside Shanklin 107. You can also e-mail us at wsa[at]wesleyan[dot]edu if you’d like to be more involved or if you have any point of view you’d like to express or questions you’d like to pose.

We hope the end of the semester is treating you well and that you will consider getting involved with this issue before the vote on Tuesday.


Zachary Malter

WSA President

Sound off in the comments, or in the ears of faculty members. Your call. Be heard.

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5 thoughts on “Petition: Reading Period is in Jeopardy

  1. Alum

    If the issue is giving time for the professors to grade before commencement, why not cut winter break short a day or two (or even a week)? It’s so long right now, and unnecessarily so.

  2. Mad Joy

    CB, as a fellow alumna, I couldn’t disagree more. The undergraduate experience is very different from the graduate experience – and even at Wesleyan, the experience for those with final papers versus final exams is very different. I remember the long reading week being absolutely essential to finishing my papers while also leaving time to study for classes with exams. The reading period was already shortened a couple of years ago – come on, have a little empathy.

    1. D_M_Z

      What it seems to me both Mad Joy and CB might not understand is that, though we call it reading “week,” we actually only get a couple weekdays for exam preparation — we’re actually losing one out of THREE weekdays. For instance, this year the last days of classes are on a Wednesday and then exams begin the following Tuesday. While I agree the current time allotment is manageable, giving students only two weekdays to prepare for exams is a little absurd.

      Why do they want to shorten reading week? Who is it benefiting? From my understanding, this decision is being made in order to give professors an extra day to grade papers/exams before commencement. It seems to me that either professors should come up with better plans within the current system to assign manageable amounts of work or they should come up with another system that does not involve shifting this time-management burden from professors’ shoulders to the students’. If there were strong data showing that this decision would reduce Wesleyan’s costs in a significant way, I’d likely be on board. However, this has not been billed as a budgetary proposal.

      Spring Fling is very important to the Wesleyan culture and community building. However, we should not see this as a Spring Fling problem. This is a reading week problem. That Thursday is a day that many use to write papers and prepare for final exams. If the administration wants to take this day of preparation away from us, then I would like to hear a number of good reasons how this decision would significantly benefit the community, our educational experience, or our finances.

  3. CB

    …seriously? My grad program did not even have reading days, let alone a reading week. The last days of class would be filled with a mix of exams and normal lectures for classes that had final papers. Often those exams would include material from the previous class day.

    If that was doable, certainly you guys can lose one reading day. If you need the extra time so badly, then perhaps Spring Fling does not need to consume your entire day. However, I find that studying for finals tends to stretch out over whatever period of time is available… I certainly used my whole reading period at wes, but my performance wasn’t hurt at all when I had much less time later.

    Conclusion: This sounds scary but is not actually a big deal.


    Alumna Who Apparently is “Old” Now

  4. WSA

    If anyone would like to comment on how their academic experience and/or mental health would be compromised by effectively shortening reading week, please e-mail or comment here.

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