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Reason’s For RC’s Scheduled Saturday Reading Day

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The reading day, or the day given by the college for students to prepare for final exams, for the RC exam period has changed this year from the previous. The change was made for various reasons. Saturday, Dec. 11 is the assigned Reading Day. The main reasons for the change were complications from the normal calendar and day of the week of Christmas. The other reason is due to the amount of hours RC students must be in class as determined by the college.

Having the reading day on a Saturday is not a new phenomenon; for example, it was done during the fall 2008 semester. However, last year the college experimented with having two reading days. One was on Monday, Dec. 7 and the other was Friday, Dec. 11.    

“We didn’t’ have an overwhelmingly positive response to this configuration,” said Leah Russell, the associate dean and registrar, in regards to last year’s reading day scheduling.

Providing students with two reading days gave students more time to study for their final exams, but many students thought the change stretched the exam week too long. Professors also complained that, with classes ending on Friday, Dec. 4 and having another exam period Monday, Dec. 14, the two week gap could hurt student performance.

Setting up the academic calendar each year can be a complex process. According to Russell, Mark Petersen, the director of the Colket Center and student activities, provides the college with a schedule of student activities for the year. It then goes to Russell who provides dates for the Registrar’s office. Finally, the list draft goes to Richard Smith, the vice president and dean of the college for other adjustments. The final decision about the academic calendar is made by the president’s cabinet. 

 RC has a policy about how long students must be in class. A normal semester is around 14-15 weeks.  One of those weeks is an exam week. That means students are also in class for 39 hours per semester.  In addition, students are given a fall and spring break. However, the college does not observe certain three day week periods that could be considered days off. Other surrounding colleges have very similar break, reading day, and exam schedules as RC. It is a common procedure to check with other institutions before the college makes decisions on breaks.

Fall break has been one of the bigger concerns of the college for the last few years. In 2007, the college formed a task force made up of students and faculty to decide whether to shorten fall break and to decide whether to give other days off that are not normally observed by the college. According to the task force report from 2008, RC has had a week-long fall break since 1987. Fall break started, though not a week long, in 1958. In the end, the committee decided to keep fall break as it stood.  

 The final determination for when the college lets out is freshman orientation. Due to freshman orientation in the fall, classes typically start on a Wednesday, whereas in the spring classes start on a Monday. This will probably not change either. 

 “As a college, we could change orientation and fall break to affect how the term ends.  Currently, I’m not aware of any changes in the immediate future,” Russell stated