Did You Know About The Upcoming Referendum for a Fall Reading Week?

Many Students will learn about Tuesday’s CSU Referendum Question When Asked to Decide its Future

Graphic Joey Bruce

I was planning to rant about things not moving fast enough at Concordia regarding the installment of a fall reading week.

My outrage bubble was utterly deflated when I found out from Interim Provost Dr. Anne Whitelaw, herself, that the Concordia Student Union was holding a referendum on that very question.

I then discovered said referendum was happening next Tuesday.

Seriously, what referendum?

I haven’t seen a single thing on the bulletin boards or walls at Loyola, in The Link, The Concordian or my inbox about a referendum or even elections.

I’m a graduate student, so I don’t get CSU emails, but is the Graduate Student Association in on this?

Will the results affect graduate students?

I couldn’t find anything on the GSA website or in my mailbox, and links to council and general assembly minutes lead to a couple of unhelpful 404s.

I assume the GSA has a representative on the Senate Board, therefore I assume they’ve been hearing about these discussions.

I certainly haven’t, though.

As for the CSU elections, I couldn’t find anything on the website about elections.

If you scroll through the abundant menu options, there are two entitled “Elections” that lead nowhere related to any present and near-future elections.

I was complaining to my really smart friend (RSF) about all this and she went on to tap “fall reading week concordia referendum.”

Sure enough, she found the exact thing I was looking for: http://elections.csu.qc.ca/referendum-question.

I felt like a chump for a second, but there was really no way I could have found it, my RSF had to write a rather specific search query.

If you’re a student who has no idea there is going to be a referendum about a fall reading week, why would you search for that?

If you go on the CSU Facebook page (because apparently to get any news now, you have to go on Facebook), there are two whole posts about by-elections.

They have a link to this same website my RSF found, though the posts make no mention of a referendum and much less about what it might be about.

Just to make sure I wasn’t blowing my top for nothing, I did a backlink search for elections.csu.qc.ca and found exactly four sites linked to it, though for some reason they are all sites from 2011 or earlier.

Point being, to know about it, you really had to want to find information about it.

Implementing a fall reading week is a big deal

A fall reading week is serious business

Why am I in such a dark mood over this? Because I haven’t slept much this semester, that’s why.

Would I still be writing this if I was well-rested? Perhaps.

Implementing a fall reading week is a big deal, it would affect students in more ways than simply giving them a well-deserved break.

The question that will be put forward to undergraduate students on November 12, 13 and 14 is as follows:

“Do you agree with the Concordia Student Union endorsing a Fall Reading Week proposal and pursuing its implementation at Concordia University?”

While it might seem like a no-brainer for some, implementation wouldn’t be a simple task.

As Dr. Whitelaw put it, there hasn’t always been the wiggle room to add a reading week.

This is because, traditionally, the semester begins after Labor Day and the university is mandated to offer 13 weeks of regular classes.

One option being considered is to start the semester earlier, but some students might have to pay for an extra month of rent, or sacrifice a week of pay.

You also cannot finish later because the exam period would leak into the holidays.

The other option is to reduce the number of weeks to 12 which, from what I understand, means that more hours of class would have to be crammed into each week.

I would personally have difficulty managing extra hours since I have to work part-time to keep studying.

This is not to say that I don’t support implementing the fall break, it could even go full speed ahead, but it is not a small decision to make.

It would be nice if the student body had more information directed at them about the situation.

What studies are the overseeing committee and CSU basing their conclusions on? What are all the implications of inserting an empty week in the middle of the term? How soon would a reading week be implemented?

The answer to the latter is: no sooner than 2021.

Many students will only learn that there’s a discussion about this project at the very moment where they will be asked to decide its future.