Reading Period Stress Causes Problems Among Students
College students must learn to cope with pressure to get by. But during the weeks before exams, random pressures of university living intensify, and become, to some, unwidely.
"We've definitely had more people come in here in the last week. It's hard to give exact numbers, but the increase in people coming to us with problems is very noticeable," Hugh Russ '82, co-director of Room 13, said yesterday.
"During reading period, people come in with more academic problems, or problems they could cope with much better during other, less pressured times. And they come in at all times, day and night," Russ added.
His co-director, Vicky Nevins, agreed, nothing that "things bother you more than they otherwise would. If a relationship is on the rocks, or in a bad state, it can blow-up during this time. There just isn't a break. You can't relax over Christmas; you feel crummy if you bring work home, and you feel crummy if you don't."
Room 13. founded in 1971 in room 13 of Mather House, began as a drug crisis center but now deals with a broad range of students' mental health problems.
Suzanne Vogel, clinical assistant with University Health Services (UHS), to which Room 13 refers students with serve emotional problems, said yesterday students who fall behind become, "emotionally paralyzed" because of stress. "They sit down and can't make themselves work, though they'd like to," she added.
Peter Heywood, biology professor at Brown University and chairman of the faculty policy group that effected a change in the university's calendar, yesterday cited the "terrible amount of stress students suffered during December and January under the old calendar" as one of the main reasons Brown moved reading period and exams to before winter break.
"There was a strong feeling from students and health services which monitored stress that out old calendar led to a Christmas break which was neither relaxed, not productive. One student said, 'You don't study, but you don't relax either. You just feel guity. Heywood added.
Brown Univerity psychologist Ferdinand Jones, who this fall coordinated a telephone survey of 12 other universities on the desireability of a new calendar, said yesterday that although school-related stress can never be eliminated, a "real break" would improve the situation.
In April 1980, the Harvard Student Assembly submitted to President Bok a plan for a new calendar that would schedule exams before vacation, but it was rejected. The last study on the feasibility of a calendar change by the University was undertaken more than four years ago