University Council discusses vacation policy, B10 Voting Challenge

Monday, January 22, 2018 - 9:48pm

Senior Policy Advisor Ben Keller leads the discussion of reading days before and after school breaks at the Central Student Government meeting Monday.

Senior Policy Advisor Ben Keller leads the discussion of reading days before and after school breaks at the Central Student Government meeting Monday. Buy this photo
Darby Stipe/Daily


In its second meeting of the semester, the University Council assembled Monday night to discuss student break reform, an anti-Semitism training and the Big Ten Voting Challenge.

Public Policy senior Ben Keller, senior policy advisor to LSA senior Anushka Sarkar, the University of Michigan’s Central Student Government president, began the meeting with presenting a reform for the way that exams are administered at the University, with the implementation of a “reading day” policy. This action would prevent professors from scheduling exams on the day immediately preceding and following a scheduled break.

According to Keller, the reading day policy would primarily benefit the mental health of students so they would not have to dedicate a substantial amount of time over shorter breaks studying for exams. Additionally, this is often stressful for out-of-state students who often need to travel home and suffer from further shortened time off from classes.

“Almost half of our student body is out of state, a lot of students take this break time to go home, and we think it’s actually a good mental health initiative because students are juggling getting out of town and travel plans,” Keller said. “I have certainly seen students bringing suitcases into exams … and that’s a big concern because we don’t think students should have to be worrying about these two things simultaneously.”

Keller cited Carnegie Mellon University as one of several schools that have successfully implemented similar policies. He affirmed student feedback and discussion with professors and administration will be instrumental to the development of this policy.

Several members of the council expressed reservations limiting this policy to only certain breaks, such as Thanksgiving and Spring Break, as opposed to Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the fall study break. Other representatives expressed their appreciation of finishing all of their exams directly before break.

“In general the feelings at the School of Public Health are we really like having it on the last day of class, and then we’re done,” CSG representative Taylor Sullivan said, who is a Public Health student.

The majority of representatives agreed this policy would be effective for Thanksgiving and Spring Break, especially for post-break days. CSG Vice President Nadine Jawad, a Public Policy senior, highlighted the importance of taking a mental rest over designated vacations.

“I think it’s just worth exploring what that means because when you only have a nine-day break, or a six-day break, and then you have to use five of those days to study for a Bio exam that is the day after, which is what happened to me my spring break, that took away my entire break,” Jawad said.

Later, LSA senior Joe Goldberg, chief of staff to the CSG president, presented a resolution to fund and join a partnership with Michigan Hillel to bring Cherie Brown, CEO and co-founder of the National Coalition Building Institute, to lead a training on the manifestations of contemporary anti-Semitism.

“The idea is that CSG will hopefully contribute some financial sum, as well as encourage representatives on the executive and legislative levels to attend the training,” Goldberg said.

The council concluded by discussing initiatives to spread awareness of the Big Ten Voting Challenge, a competition in which all 14 universities in the Big Ten Conference seek to increase voter registration and turnout in the student population. While no specific committee action was taken, CSG representative Naomi Wilson, a Rackham student, mentioned that she sent information in their newsletter.