McMaster students can expect a special treat from the university next Halloween — an extended long weekend smack dab in the middle of their fall semester.
This week, McMaster's senate approved an additional two-day break from classes, scheduled for Thurs. Oct. 31 and Fri. Nov. 1. The measure also imposes a moratorium on tests and exams for Sat. Nov. 2.
"To see something that will happen in one year, that will have a noticeable effect on student life, is awesome," said McMaster Students Union president Siobhan Stewart, who promised to push for the break as part of her election platform.
'It's really an opportunity to focus on wellness.' —Siobhan Stewart, McMaster Students Union president
The mid-semester pause, she said, is necessary to help students tend to their own mental health. It'll be especially beneficial for first-year students, who have a whirlwind of new experiences between the beginning of frosh week and the end of their first semester, she noted.
"There's not a really of lot of time reflect on what you're doing. The need for reflection is very key."
McMaster has brought in the break on two-year trial basis. The university's calendar already boasts a winter "reading week," which usually falls in mid-to-late February.
McMaster didn't pursue a full week for the fall break, Stewart said, because of scheduling constraints.
Howver, she lauded university officials for working to find a viable solution.
"Mental health is an issue that has an impact on everyone. That's something that all students can connect to. That shows good faith on behalf of the university because they were able to listen."
In 2013, Halloween — one of the biggest party nights of the school year — falls during the break.
"I think it's a coincidence," Stewart said, adding it was university officials, not she, who suggested the dates.
But she said it's up to students how they want to spend their time off, whether they choose to carouse with friends or catch up on rest.
"It's really an opportunity to focus on wellness, whatever that means to you."