RRC students staying in school as city universities offer a fall reading week to promote mental health

By Madison Reico

Students gather in the atrium of the Red River College Exchange District campus between classes./REICO

Red River College (RRC) students can’t catch a break as university students plan to relax over fall reading week.

University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg students started their fall reading week on Oct. 5, with both schools being closed on Thanksgiving Monday.

The University of Winnipeg’s reading week break extends until Oct. 13. Meanwhile, the University of Manitoba students is back in class on Oct. 10.

The intent of the break is to promote mental health awareness, says the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association.

Fall reading week may provide students with a way to relieve stress during a busy time of the school year and reduce pressures that may trigger anxiety and other mental health issues.

Following the lead of the University of Winnipeg, which first offered a fall reading week in 2015, the University of Manitoba scheduled their first fall reading week in 2016.

RRC has not followed the trend.

“I definitely think it’s worth examining,” said Chris Pointon, a Digital Media Design instructor at RRC. “Many post-secondary institutions throughout Canada have found that it’s been beneficial to student’s mental health, and has had a positive impact on their academic success.”

Until 2010, RRC did not have any reading week break in February.

Red River College Students’ Association (RRCSA) Vice President Internal, Nikolai Bola, said the fall reading week is something they plan on looking into.

“There is a mandatory class instruction time guideline that all programs must follow, thus increasing time off for students means increasing the length of the program,” said Bola. “[Fall reading week] is something that we are still trying to navigate and open the conversation about with the institution.”

University of Manitoba grad student Rebecca Madziak is taking full advantage of the fall reading week offered at her school.

“It’s a nice break for me because the [Thanksgiving] holiday is the time I can spend with my family. Lots of my classmates now have a chance to go back home during the break, since not all of them live in the city,” said Madziak.

RRSCA President Lauren Slegers, agrees promoting mental health is still important, even if a break is not possible.

“Although giving time off is one possible way to promote mental health, Red River College does not currently have a fall reading week, so we try to support mental health in other ways,” said Slegers.

Slegers say Thrive Week, a themed week with many activities promoting mental health and wellness on campus, is an annual event that the RRCSA partners with the college to host.

Thrive Week will be held November 6-10, and a full list of events will be available for students soon.