Reading Day presents opportunities to de-stress on campus


The Daily Illini File Photo

Students study in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building in Champaign, IL. October 4, 2016.

By Melissa Wagner, Staff writer

Coffee-fueled nights, hours-long project meetings, study breaks at the bar and even dogs at the libraries all mean one thing; it’s finals. But before finals comes Reading Day — a day left entirely free of mandatory course obligations.

The University’s long-standing tradition of holding a Reading Day before finals allows students to de-stress whichever way they choose — whether it be University-sponsored events or otherwise.

The student code states that students may use the day as an opportunity to prepare for their upcoming final exams. The rationale, according to the University Senate policies, explains there has been a strong sentiment in favor of — especially from students — having Reading Day on a weekday.

In place of classes, the University hosts a variety of non-mandatory events aimed at helping students study and de-stress.

Dana Tempel, assistant director of the Center for Academic Resources in Engineering, said she was surprised to hear how much students look forward to seeing the therapy dogs at the library.

“It’s apparently a really therapeutic way to take a break, and I remember when I first came here, thinking, ‘Really? They think that works?’” Tempel said. “And then I would have students asking me, ‘Do you know if they’re bringing the dogs this semester?’”

Therapy dogs are trained canines that provide comfort to people with their presence and affection. Most typically aren’t trained as service dogs.

This year, the Paw Party will be held at the UGL on Reading Day, May 4 from 2 to 4 p.m. The dogs will also be at the Grainger Engineering Library on Friday, May 5 from 2 to 4 p.m. and the Funk ACES Library on Monday, May 8 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Students can also choose to spend their Thursday at the Reading Day at KCPA — an event hosted at the Krannert Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring raffle prizes, coloring, snacks at the Intermezzo Café as well as study aides, like a bookmobile and charging stations.

Reading Day will then move to Spurlock Museum for Friday and Saturday. Spurlock’s event will feature a craft bar, board games, yoga and study tables from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Similar to Krannert and Spurlock, the UGL hosts it’s own annual Destress Fest with many of the same events including free counseling for students in search of resources or even just a friendly face.

On Sunday, students can visit the UGL for more freebies. Cheryl Berger, assistant head for alumni relations in the Department of Psychology, said the undergraduate fundraising and outreach group Psychology Leaders will distribute stress packages.

“The packages include tips for dealing with stress during finals week, a picture they can color with crayons, and some sweet treats,” Berger wrote in an email. “There will also be coupons from a local vendor.”

While there are plenty of University offerings available to help students unwind, some prefer to go out and have a couple drinks instead, especially if they don’t have any finals on Friday.

The night before Reading Day has appropriately been nicknamed “Reading Day Eve,” although it usually only applies to debauchery, not studying.

Juan Uribe, junior in AHS and a bartender at the Clybourne, will be working on Wednesday night.

“I’ve never worked on a Reading Day Eve, but it’s usually pretty packed no matter what bar you’re at,” Uribe said. “Unless you have finals the next day, I think going out on Reading Day Eve is a great way to wrap up the semester with your friends.”

Depending on when students move out or head home for the summer, this upcoming weekend could be their last chance to celebrate the end of the year. Some may even have the opportunity to leave campus early.

Tempel said that no matter how students choose to spend their Reading Day, the bulk of the semester is already completed. Finals are just the cherry on top.

It’s important for students to be reminded that they’ve been working really hard, Tempel emphasized, commenting on the work ethic of students at the University.

“I know that finals mean a lot, but everything they’ve done before that is really important too,” Tempel said. “I think at that point, you’ve given it all you’ve got, and you just have to go into it feeling confident and knowing that you worked really hard and that it’s going to pay off.”

[email protected]