Trent "suicide week" only of its kind
By Laura Katsirdakis
Students at Trent University do not have classes this week;
students at every other university in Ontario do. Western students,
do you feel jealous?
The fact that Trent has two reading weeks, one in the fall
and one in the winter, has sparked speculation as to the reason
for the extra week off. The result: the October reading week
has been known as "Suicide Week" for quite some time. The legend
is that since Trent supposedly has such a high suicide rate,
the extra break was needed to take the pressure off students.
Although the rumour is well known among students, faculty and
staff are not as likely to have heard it.
"I've never heard of it before," said Roma Harris, vice provost
and registrar at Western, when asked about the "Suicide Week" rumour.
Meri Kim Oliver, senior director of student affairs at Trent,
has heard about the rumour. "There is no truth to the rumour
that Trent has a higher suicide rate," she said.
"The origin of [the fall week off] dates back to Trent's inception
- it is one of the few parallels we still have to Oxford [University]," Oliver
explained, adding this breaks the school year into four equal
sections, six weeks in length.
The "Suicide Week" rumour has been circulating for quite some
time, Oliver said. She could not pin down exactly how long
it has been around, but said it has been circulating for "at
least a decade or more."
Although she said she did not know how the rumour began, Oliver
speculated it has something to do with the fact all other Ontario
universities do not have the time off in October.
There have been no official efforts by Trent to debunk the
rumour, Oliver explained. "The more we try to debunk it the
more it lives on."
When asked why Western does not have two reading weeks, Harris
explained there is no time to fit it into the school year.
"We take to the Senate a calendar every year [which balances]
academic days, winter exam days, final exam days and study
days," Harris explained, adding it is tricky enough to balance
these out. The reason for Western's sole reading week falling
in the second term is the perception a break is needed more
during that time.
When asked about the "Suicide Week" rumour, many students
confirmed they had heard of it.
"We have higher averages at Western so maybe we know how to
deal with stress," said Melissa Dennie, a second-year visual
arts student, adding perhaps Trent students suffered from time
management problems which leads to the need for a suicide week.