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Saint Mary’s reading day sparks rumors

Laura Baumgartner | Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Last year, Saint Mary’s student government Academic Affairs Committee accepted a proposal for the first reading day to give students extra preparation time for final exams. However, as the designated day – Friday – rapidly approaches, gossip about professors defying the new rule and attempting to hold mandatory classes is spreading throughout the student body.Despite confusion and indignation at the idea that some professors would disregard the reading day, according to student body president Elizabeth Jablonski-Diehl, these objections are nothing more than rumors. To date, student government has heard no reports of specific professors who are holding mandatory classes Friday.There were some investigations made in the beginning due to students’ concerns, but after further research, it was discovered that professors are simply holding optional review sessions, Jablonski-Diehl said, adding that the practice is endorsed by student government.”The ability to hold study sessions without the constraint of other classes makes these sessions more accessible to the student body – it is one of the many advantages of the reading day,” Jablonski-Diehl said.The approval process for the reading day is one that has taken ten years and several meetings among professors, student government members and other school officials in order to ensure that it would be beneficial to all involved. Initially, many professors objected to the reading day for a variety of reasons.”My misgivings were largely about taking away a day of class and what that represented in terms of using class time to get students ready for their final and sum up the semester’s worth of material,” said Joe Incandela, a professor in the religious studies department.Other professors said they had no misgivings about the day from its initial introduction.”I seem to recall that, some 20 years ago, the last Friday of the semester was already designated as a study day, but that it eventually migrated to the Saturday and Sunday preceding finals week,” said professor Renee Kingcaid. “So, since most professors have come to count on holding class meetings all the way through the last semester week, ‘losing’ the Friday has created syllabus problems. Personally, I’m in favor of a study day if the students truly use it as such.”Professors, however, who are opposed to the idea of a reading day, may yet have an opportunity to see the new rule removed from existence.As stated in the campaign motto created by the Student Academic Council in order to promote appropriate use of the reading day, students must “use it or lose it.” Over Christmas break, students will be asked to fill out a survey on Prism evaluating the effectiveness of the day, with the results evaluated by the Student Academic Committee and other committees to assess the day and determine its future.It is up to both the students and the staff to respect the day and facilitate the effective use of the opportunities it provides, as it was created to help students by providing them with extra time to study in order to improve their grades. It is not a day students or professors would want to loose by abusing it during its first year of existence, Jablonski-Diehl said.”In the end we are all looking to make Saint Mary’s a better place,” she said.