Students call for more reading days


An Associated Students of Occidental College (ASOC) survey issued Feb. 1 to gauge student interest in additional reading days has revealed discontent with the current number of days students have to prepare for final exams. The findings will contribute to an ongoing campaign by ASOC to have the school add more reading days to the academic calendar.

ASOC Vice President of Academic Affairs, Diplomacy and World Affairs (DWA) and Urban and Environmental Policy (UEP) double major Enoch Sowah (junior) emailed the entire student body with the survey.

“The response from students was overwhelming, given that we are generally very busy students, sometimes not checking emails all the time,” Sowah said.

The survey garnered 500 responses in the first day and 818 responses in total. Ninety-six percent of those students said they would benefit from reading day extensions. A plurality of students want three extra reading days, and 21 percent wanted five extra. Sixty-three percent of students would be comfortable with returning earlier to school to accommodate for the additional days.

While the academic calendar has already been finalized for this year and next, the 2015-2016 year may have additional reading days if the discussion continues between students and the Dean of the College.

This semester, as is customary, students will have one official reading day and the weekend to prepare for finals. Reading days give students extra time to study and contact professors leading up to finals week. But according to some students, weekends do not necessarily offer the same benefits as days off during the week.

“Though we have much longer breaks at Oxy, we have shorter reading days than other schools, such as Pomona,” Sowah said. “A problem is that professors are often not on campus on weekends.”

UEP major Rachel Taylor (sophomore) agrees it would be universally beneficial to extend reading days beyond the weekend before finals week.

“To me, [weekends] don’t count as reading days. Not a lot is getting done in class those days before finals. I think time would be better spent on your own studying,” Taylor said. “Most professors are very slow answering emails on the weekends.”

Sowah is spearheading the effort to secure more reading days for students. He has met several times with Dean of the College Jorge Gonzalez since last semester. The faculty and the registrar were also included in discussions.

While results from the survey will strengthen his case, Sowah said that the college will need consistent pressure from students to implement changes to the academic calendar.

“Going forward, one thing I’d like to point out is that this is important to all us students. We need to follow up with a conversation already started, much beyond the survey,” Sowah said. “Based on student insistence, I’m hopeful.”




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