10/7/20 Assata Gilmore

Purdue Student Government president Assata Gilmore describes the stressful situations students are in due to the fall academic schedule. In her petition to add reading days to the fall schedule, Gilmore cited two reports, a study, and a survey that concluded that students are exhausted, drained, and worried about their mental health.

Purdue approved Nov. 4 as an optional Reading Day to give instructors and students the chance for a brief respite from classes, according to a Purdue News release issued Tuesday afternoon.

The University Senate passed a recommendation for the Reading Day during its meeting Monday, and also approved extension of the deadlines for students to withdraw from a course or select a Pass/Not Pass option for fall courses.

Instructors are encouraged to opt in to the Reading Day if at all possible, the release reads, and should communicate early to students if and how their class will participate. Campus will remain open, and students are expected to remain on campus.

“Our thanks to the Purdue Student Government and to the University Senate for recognizing the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented for some of our students," Provost Jay Akridge said in the press release. "The measures proposed and adopted today will provide flexibility to our students, helping them to continue to make academic progress during this difficult time.”  

Purdue Student Government President Assata Gilmore initially started a change.org petition for the Reading Day.

Though she was disappointed it isn't mandatory, Gilmore called it "a huge win for students."

"The optional component, I recognize why it was done," she said, "but I'm hoping that professors take this measure seriously."

She urged students to email studentgoverment@purdue.edu if they feel they are not getting the day off or if professors aren't taking the Reading Day seriously.

"I'm hoping that everyone can take a moment to rest and that most, if not all, faculty members take advantage of this opportunity for themselves as well," she said.

The placement of the Reading Day the day following the election was advocated for in the University Senate's Monday meeting.

“I want to thank the Purdue Student Government under the leadership of President Assata Gilmore for bringing these matters forward, the University Senate’s Educational Policy Committee for moving these proposals through the Senate, and the University’s support of these Senate actions,” said Senator Deb Nichols.

The majority of the faculty affairs committee was opposed to the Reading Day as summarized by committee chair Alexander Francis during the University Senate meeting Monday.

Francis said he was personally in favor of the motion, but his committee declined to sponsor it due to short-term issues regarding existing course plans and classes rather than the overall idea of having a break.

“For example ... half the students go to lab on one day and not (the other), and it just gets very, very confusing," Francis said per previous Exponent reporting. "So at least the the general consensus was that it would be probably adding as much stress as it might be relieving."

There was much more support from his committee for having more, and more frequent, breaks in future semesters where faculty can plan better for them, he said.

Executive Reporter Joseph Ching contributed reporting.

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