University of Colorado student leaders are pushing for a reinstatement of "reading days," which give students a brief reprieve between the last day of classes and the first day of final exams.
The university scrapped reading days in the spring and fall nearly 15 years ago to accommodate a fall break in October. In 2006, the academic schedule shifted so students got a full week off for Thanksgiving.
But David Gillis, a senator representing the College of Engineering and Applied Science, said he's concerned that students learn new course material on a Friday afternoon and are forced to take a cumulative final exam early the next morning. That situation, he said, puts pressure on students to stay up all night, rely on caffeine and resort to dangerous study drugs. The short turnaround hampers students' abilities to perform their best on final exams, Gillis said.
"We really just don't have enough time to study," said Gillis, who will be graduating in May. "As an engineering student, I've had to learn new material on a Friday afternoon, then take a final, cumulative exam the next morning."
Gillis, along with Daniel Hansen, also a senator from the engineering college, successfully passed the resolution in the student government. They've also met with university leaders, including Chancellor Phil DiStefano.
There are two scenarios that CU and student leaders have come up with that could make the revival of reading days possible.
The first would be to push finals and graduation back by one day. Finals would go Monday through Friday and move graduation to Saturday.
But, university officials said, that can result in extra costs, including paying staff from parking, security and other campus services to work an extra day for Saturday graduations since those staff members would already be working on Fridays. Also, CU's other campuses hold graduation on Saturdays, and regents might be torn between which ceremony to attend.
The second option is to cancel the last Thursday and Friday of classes and move finals up one day. Thursday is the reading day and finals would run from Friday through Wednesday -- with no exams on Sunday.
Under both scenarios, fall break would remain intact and students would get one reading day each semester prior to finals.
Before Chancellor DiStefano makes a decision, he'll want to get input from the Boulder Faculty Assembly.
Jerry Peterson, chairman of the assembly, said members haven't yet taken an official stance.
"The pluses are we could expect better student achievement on final exams as students would have time to review and digest material," Peterson said. "The drawback is if we have commencement on a Saturday, we have problems with overtime and workload."
Bill Kaempfer, vice provost and associate vice chancellor for budget and planning, said the chancellor would also need to meet with the commencement committee to discuss any possible schedule changes. Additionally, the university is looking into how much it would cost to reinstate reading days.
If reading days are brought back, the changes wouldn't happen until next year at the very earliest, Kaempfer said.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1327 or firstname.lastname@example.org.