Staff Editorial: Reading Period should be a Break

Sometimes the stars align with class syllabi so that some students are stuck with three exams or presentations just before or after reading period. This needs to change.

As an institutional practice, reading period provides a four-day weekend at the end of sixth week. For the preceding six weeks, Lawrentians have put in extensive hours in the lab and written 10-12 page essays. In most situations, midterms are gone, but the student body still looks like crazed contemporaries of Jack Torrance from “The Shining.” This is the optimal time to give students an actual break so they can sit back and read for pleasure, take a mini-vacation from Lawrence to refresh their minds or just catch up on some much needed sleep.

Yet for some reason, a few professors choose to place exams right after reading period. In their defense, students then have a four day weekend to study and prepare for the test.

However, that defeats the purpose of reading period. It’s supposed to be a chance for students to take a well-deserved break before the final laps of a term. If reading period’s purpose was to provide an extended period of study for students taking tests, it wouldn’t take place at the end of sixth week, but before fifth week, when most midterms take place.

Right now, reading period’s purpose is hazy as opinions of what it is for differ from professor to professor, creating situations in which students are forced to take exams in every possible permutation in before- and after- reading period scheduling. If professors agreed to assign tests during the days leading up to reading period, students could have an actual break and de-stress, rather than experience the sustained numbness of an extended study session.

Even for those who disagree with the idea that reading period is a break, establishing one policy for this special time of the term would help students have a consistent expectation of what it will bring.