Reading Day

2011-2012 Davidson College academic calendar

2011-2012 Davidson College academic calendar

Tucked discreetly in the college calendar are two Reading Days–one for each semester. For Spring 2012, Reading is Thursday, May 10th.

Known in the 1960s as Pre-examination Days, the intent is to give students a break between classes and final examinations.  The first listing for a Pre-examination Day appears in the 1964-65 academic calendar.  We no longer have the minutes from the committee to know why they decided to add a study day to the calendar.

In what will seem odd to today’s students, in the years between 1969-1976, the pre-exam days often fell on a Saturday– a reminder of the years of Saturday classes.  For students in the fall of 1970, their Thanksgiving break had to serve the extra purpose of exam prep.  Thanksgiving holiday officially ended at 8am on November 30th and exams began at 9am on November 30th.

Memo to campus about substituting Good Friday for Reading Day

Memo to campus about substituting Good Friday for Reading Day

The name Reading Day first appears on the campus calendar in 1976-77 – though only for the fall and winter terms. The spring term granted no break between the end of classes and start of finals. Reading Day did make to spring the next year and stayed around until 1982.

A decision was made to substitute a holiday on Good Friday that would take away the official Reading Day. The memo to campus noted that “Students may choose to created a Reading Day or not on May 16 [the first day for finals].  This memo also noted that this was a trial.  A few months later, another memo announced that Good Friday would replace Reading Day for the 1982-83 academic year as well and noted “In subsequent years the decision of whether to have a holiday on Good Friday will depend on where Good Friday falls within the Spring Term calendar.”

It took until the spring of 1989 for Reading Day to reappear on the spring calendar.  The college avoids scheduling activities on Reading Day — though Reading Day eve concerts are popular with the student a cappella groups and any number of groups work to provide study snacks — cookies, ice cream, yogurt parfaits, etc.

Did you have a Reading Day tradition? Did you study hard or taking the day off?

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