A Critique of Fall Reading Week


By: Paco Butt


So there you have it. The monumental moment (or series of moments, if you prefer) that is Fall Reading Week has come and gone from the University of Toronto. What’s the verdict?


Before this year, students enjoyed a two-day break called Fall Break. It was always a pleasant surprise, being a short and sweet way to take a breath without disrupting the quick pace that tends to grip the Fall term. This break, however, had only been on the calendar since 2009, when the Faculty of Arts & Science had phased out Fall Reading Week.

Now, about seven years later, this longer break was brought back by an overwhelming majority through a student referendum. (Full disclosure—I voted no.)

Tacking on three days to Fall Break meant shuffling around time in other places on the calendar. For students, this meant that school started a few days earlier than usual. In and of itself, this isn’t a bad thing. Summer is already quite long, and most students are itching to be back by the end of it. What I thought sucked was how it cut into orientation activities, more popularly (or at least, used to be) known as Frosh Week. 

Ah, Frosh. I remember my Frosh Week … it was okay. Regardless, it’s an invaluable experience, and losing days did take away from its initiatory nature. Frosh Week is supposed to throw you into a new environment, immersing you in a pool of fellow froshies until you’ve grabbed onto a few that will help you stay afloat. Only then can you come up for air. Usually you’re left with a solid crew of friends and a good sense of the layout and expectations of the university.

A lot of this experience can be lost on students when the week becomes condensed. Suddenly you’re having session after session of information and activities thrown at you with only a day or two to really get it. Clubs Fair and the Street Fest get combined into something called … the Clubs Carnival? Huh?

I’m sure it went over fine for people, but I wish incoming students had gotten to experience a full week of settling in and getting to know the University of Toronto. 

The longer break might also make some changes to the time span after fall classes end and before exams begin, but let’s be real, that period is always a blur anyways. I don’t think it matters too much.

Let’s talk about Fall Reading Week, though.

Like any break, you hear the usual, “What the fuck, it went by so quickly!” This is either because people had too much fun (like my friend, who travelled to Taiwan) or not enough (like most of us, staring into space instead of touching our books).

What felt different is how courses were awkwardly structured around the break. We had midterms before the break, and then a slew of assignments due right after. I would rather have school, because without the extra days of instruction it was trickier to get time in with a professor or get in touch with classmates.

Nevermind that it completely throws off the momentum of the term, which I mentioned earlier. Plopping a week in my lap made me feel like I could relax a bit, but considering the schoolwork left to do, the Fall Reading Week was a recipe for disaster. My family wants me to come home, I want to see my friends and I’m nervously patting my textbook on the cover and telling it, “I’ll be back, I’m just stepping out to buy some cigarettes.” 

Oh well. I still got some work done, even though I didn’t like how it felt … but maybe I just have a stick book up my ass.

Drop us a line at thenewspaper@gmail.com if you feel differently. I’d love to hear how your Fall Reading Week went too!

This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/the-opinion/critique-fall-reading-week/.