After being back on campus for only one week, finals season is upon us, and we are all feeling the stress of it. Classes end this Friday, and we head straight into finals week right afterwards, with only two “reading days” — just the weekend — to prepare. As we approach the end of this semester, we find it deeply upsetting that we are given such a limited period of time to work on and prepare for our finals without the stress of attending class and daily assignments looming over us. We call on the College to reevaluate the length of the reading period for the semesters to come.
For both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years, students had three reading days before heading into the stressful finals week. Even those three days did not feel like a lot of time — to take away another day feels incredibly unfair, and minimizes all of the work we do on this campus. Additionally, the fact that our reading days take place on Saturday and Sunday mean that students aren’t even receiving extra time for studying or writing papers.
President Sean Decatur told the Collegian it is time for the College to reassess the length of the reading period, as it has not been reviewed since 2007, when Student Council and Campus Senate reevaluated its necessity. At that time, some professors raised concerns that students were resting more than appropriate rather than using the time effectively. Such a complaint perpetuates the notion that success is rooted in relentless productivity — but the fact is that appropriate rest and self care are necessary for success. Regardless of how students spend their reading days, one weekend is not a sufficient amount of time to allow students to take a breather and produce quality work after an already stressful semester.
For comparison, we looked into the academic calendars for other institutions around the country, many of which allot more time for reading days than Kenyon. While our peer institutions have similar schedules, we noted that students at Swarthmore will receive four reading days this semester, while those at Amherst are given five. And that’s only a small change from our two days: Students at select Ivy League schools often receive a full week (or more!) for their reading period, as seen at Yale and Princeton. Kenyon likes to compare its rigorous academics to these schools, so shouldn’t we, too, receive some of these benefits?
While we know we and our fellow classmates are capable of completing the semester, the short reading period significantly contributes to the added stresses of finals season. Beyond finals having long-term impacts on our academic standing, Kenyon students truly care about the topics of their coursework and the quality of their final assignments. A two-day weekend as reading days simply does not give us the chance to succeed at our highest level.
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Jordy Fee-Platt ’22 and Linnea Mumma ’22, managing editor Amanda Pyne ’22 and executive director Joe Wint ’22. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.