Incumbent SU President Zak Coleman was a key figure in the "Yes" campTobia Nava/Varsity

The “Yes” campaign has won the SU referendum on the introduction of a reading week in Michaelmas and Lent Terms.

The results, revealed at 7pm last night (03/03) showed that 64% of voters supported the introduction of a reading week, although voter turnout was just 16%.

Voters were able to respond “Yes”, “No” or “Abstain” in response to the question: “Do you support the introduction of a full freshers’ week in Michaelmas Term and week-long Mid-Term Break/Reading Week in Michaelmas and Lent Terms?” While not binding on the University, the referendum result means that the SU will continue to lobby for the change to be implemented.

The introduction of a reading week, or mid-term break, has been high on the SU’s agenda for a while, with the University setting up a working group on the issue last year.

After a University consultation on the issue showed that there was “a lack of certainty” among colleges, faculties and departments on whether such a break would have a “positive impact on student wellbeing”, the SU Student Council voted to hold the referendum in February, in the hope of showing University decision makers “the strength of student support for the proposal”.

If implemented, the proposals would see the introduction of five days free of scheduled teaching in Week 5 of both Michaelmas and Easter terms. The Yes campaign say they will achieve this “by starting term three days earlier and ending it two later”, using the extra out-of-term days students usually have as part of their residency periods.

The Yes campaign cite improved student wellbeing, more time for extracurricular activities, and higher levels of “academic enrichment” as the main benefits they hope a reading week will bring.

“By Week 5, we are all feeling burned out and in need of a break. A Reading Week would allow us to rest and recover from the intensity of Cambridge term and give us time to catch up if we’ve fallen behind.” The campaign said.

It went on to argue that students would be able to socialise and take part in extracurriculars “without any guilt or pressure to be working.”

It also said that the reading week would allow time for students to absorb what they had learned during the first half of term, and pursue their own academic interests outside of the work set by faculties.

Reacting to their victory in a statement to Varsity, the Yes campaign said: “We’re really excited to have the support of the student body on this proposal.”

The No case, which was uploaded to the SU website on Wednesday, put forward a number of arguments against the reading week.

Its core arguments were that the reading week would not be a “break”, that students would miss out on time to relax at the beginning and end of term, that it would make life more difficult for international students, and that the vacations were sufficient for reading around the subject.


Mountain View

SU votes to hold referendum on reading week

It also argued that the SU could not guarantee that extra work, optional readings or supervisions would not be set throughout that week, nor could it guarantee that students would not have to pay more rent.

As part of the Yes campaign, campaigners have addressed what they view as “myths” about the reading week.

They say that residency periods will remain the same length, resulting in no extra rent being paid, and that the rest of the term structure would remain the same, meaning Saturday lectures would be unaffected.

In response to the claim that Faculties would give students more work, they argued that the University has committed to not scheduling teaching or setting new work during the reading week. They also promised to set up a system by which students can report if faculties continue to set work during this period.