Profs walk out on students

By Matthew Prescott Oxman

Paper airplanes thrown at professors, music and movies played aloud on laptops and chattering cell phone users are causing engineering instructors to pack up and leave.

In an announcement posted on BlackBoard Oct. 19, first-year engineering instructors Robert Gossage and Andrew McWilliams announced two measures to deal with the “constant disruptions” in General Chemistry lectures.

The first was a three-strike policy. After three warnings the professor would walk out and it would be up to students to learn the rest of the lecture material on their own. The second was to make test and exam questions harder, since “the class appeared to know the material well enough so as not to listen during lecture.”

“Chemistry has been the worst,” said Adam Rupani, a first-year engineering student. “I was sitting in the first row and couldn’t hear the professor.”

“I got fucked on that midterm because those people weren’t paying attention,” Rupani said.

Lucas Crawford said he was nearly blamed when another student threw a paper airplane that narrowly missed chemical engineering professor Frankie Stewart. Crawford said Stewart “flipped out,” and took the name, student number and picture of every student in the three back rows. Yet no students were reprimanded as far as Crawford is aware.

Disrupting learning and teaching is listed as the first offence in the non-academic code of conduct.

Ryerson president Sheldon Levy said that professors should ask the university for support before walking out.

“Walking out doesn’t sound to me like it would be in our policy,” Levy said.

Gossage declined to comment. But Mickey Cirak, student conduct officer, said no formal complaints have been made by professors or students. He said professors can either file a complaint or call his office for a consultation on how to deal with a particular situation.

“ The approaches that can be used range anywhere from speaking to the entire class, to putting expectations on the syllabus all the way to taking action with individual students and filing a formal complaint,” he said.

“What I always advocate is that students and individuals be given an opportunity to learn.”

Rupani said lectures have been better since the removal of clicker tests that were at the end of each lecture. Students got bonus marks just for taking the test, but without it, some of the rowdier students decided to skip class.

“People won’t come if there’s nothing going on,” said Rupani.

Students said the disruptions could be because of the large class sizes, but Cirak said he hasn’t seen a trend of this kind of student behaviour.

“Managing big classes is an issue in every institution,” said Mohamed Lachemi, the dean of the faculty of engineering, architecture and science.

He said he doesn’t discuss specific issues with professors, but that these issues are discussed between the professors and their respective chairs.

But in this case, Lachemi said, “I will go to see for myself, for sure.”

Noman Javed, another first-year engineering student said he understands it is difficult for professors to control 500 students. But he said even when professors don’t walk out of class, their failure to deal with obnoxious students makes lectures a waste of time.

Andrew McWilliams and Frankie Stewart were unavailable for comment.

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30 Comments

  1. P said:

    Lol I overheard one douchebad in the ENG building boasting that he was the one throwing the airplanes; he looked like a fool anyway, life will straighten him out one way or another. To the firsts years: it gets better guys, the system should weed out the assholes by the 2nd and 3rd year. It is too bad that this takes place, it just shows what types of people actually slide into Rye with mid 70s from high school; I got friends at UofT ENG who say their only concern first year was lack of seats in the front, because everyone wanted to be close to the professor *sigh*

  2. blze said:

    I am in one of these classes, and its hard enough to hear the prof at the front of the class since he refuses to use a mic and the background chatter is astoundingly loud,that i’m left to resorting to independent study most of the time. The class was usually jam packed with students, and now that Clickers have stopped working the class sizes have reduced by huge amount. I understand that profs should have to deal with these complications in class as it is an educational institution where we are here to learn, but walking out on those eager to further develop their knowledge is rude and definitely uncalled for. Thus, i believe that changes to procedures to handle situations should be changed to better suit those who are actually there to learn. Hopefully this doesn’t continue into Winter 2011 and further years to come :S.

  3. EEgrad said:

    This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems with undergrad students. Ask any grad student in engineering what they think of undergrads, its not a pretty picture.

    • uWaterloo Student said:

      Who cares what grad students think of first years, think logically. Weren’t grad students first years/undergrads too at some point. Look at the logic here, they are Ryerson students in the first place, no shit they’d be throwing paper airplanes instead of paying attention in class. Sucks for those of you who actually want to learn and are unable to do so.

  4. EEundergrad said:

    though there are a few really bad undergrad students who ruined chem for us, we are not all like that. I urge you to remember when you were an undergrad student. I’m sure some people in your year were just as bad. Also the real reason McWilliams left the class was as follows:
    strike 1: Too much talking
    2: someone was on facebook during a clicker question
    3: A whole row of kids that talk through the entire lecture were on facebook
    was it really fair to leave the class based on the actions of these few students? why were we all reprimanded for their bad mistakes?

  5. POllenberg said:

    You know what this is gonna lead to? CCTV cameras in the front of lecture halls. In some ways, I don’t disagree with it if this is how the wee children (and I daren’t call those specific miscreants ‘students’) are behaving. Catch ‘em in the act and give them a Misconduct Failure for the class. Done. They’ll be Required to Discontinue so quickly the problem will deal with itself.

  6. Dan Shier said:

    Why don’t the professors just KICK OUT THE TROUBLE MAKERS?

    If you can’t pay attention to a class your paying for, then GTFO?

    • other said:

      I agree with Dan. This is pretty simple. Yes, there is pressure to keep students enrolled, and to help those who need it, but basic respect is pretty simple. Pay attention or get out.

    • anon said:

      My physics engineering lectures used to be hell up to about two or three weeks ago. My professor never walked out, he just kicked out the kids who were “to blame.” Fact is, he only kicked out the kids who were unlucky enough to sit near the mob of guys who talked. And the mob of guys who talked were all South Asian or Middle Eastern. But the guys he kicked out? Chinese, white, anything but brown. When half the class is brown and over the course of seven or so lectures at least two students get kicked out each lecture, and NOT ONE of them is brown? Obviously the talking continues, nothing gets accomplished, and it just proves the professor is a pussy.

      • Anon2 said:

        Totally agree. Thankfully, most of got below 2.0 GPA and are not in most of my classes anymore.

        This comment has been edited by the moderator

  7. Nancy said:

    I’ve never agreed with punishing everyone because of a few idiots acting out. It’s up to the prof to deal with the problem students directly without punishing other students who are there to learn. It’s time consuming and difficult, but it’s part of their job. Isn’t this addressed somewhere in the student code of conduct and if it isn’t, it should be. The prof needs some sort of stick to get control.

  8. RC said:

    It is not just the Chem class or any one class. You get these same people that never stop talking through every single lecture. Trying to kick them out would take up so much time from everyone else most of the profs just try to push through and finish. They need to do something about them, and get control of their class. I too sit in the front few rows and it was impossible for half the year to hear anything till the clickers were taken out and people stopped coming to class. The people who are constantly talking plane and simple have no respect for anyone, not the prof not their peers, nor them selves if this is how they treat their education.

  9. ee111 said:

    The prof shouldn’t have walked out.
    There is bound to be dumb fucks in a class of 500, and especially at Ryerson. We lost money, & the prof still got his cheque. The prof makes six figure, and shouldn’t give a fuck, let alone WALK OUT ON OUT PEOPLE LIKE ME. I SAT THERE WITH A PENCIL AND A PAPER. I made no sound, and three quarters of the class didn’t make sound either. To punish the entire class is just fucking retarded. The prof needs to open his eyes. I’m legit mad because i have to work that much harder to teach myself this garbage course that they make first year engineers take. I hope the profs got shit from their supervisors. The prof shouldn’t give a fuck, and if he catches a guy, he should embarrass him by including him in the lecture discussion.

  10. Anon said:

    There needs to be a roving squad of classroom enforcers, who will either sit in on a class and as people start disrupting, will either call security or just take names and kick out. Three strikes from a student would mean an automatic F.

  11. Issa said:

    Sheldon Levy should start thinking that this makes Ryerson look more like a bit college than a serious alternative to U of T. Parents may start to notice that the Admin does not really care about unruly students and in fact empowers them by its lack of any clear policy to effectively deal with the matter.

  12. kats said:

    Fuck policing. What are we students doing anyway when our peers start talking? Nothing.

    I was not in Dr. McWilliam’s chemistry class, but once, in Dr. Johnson’s class, there were these dudes were talking so loud to the point of distraction.

    “YO. SHUT THE FUCK UP. SHOW SOME RESPECT OR GET OUT!”

    I personally intervene because it affects me.

    It was worse in my math tutorials. Our T.A. didn’t know how to handle these kids. My friend Jessica flipped out.

    “You dumb FUCKS!” She screamed. “Just because mommy and daddy pays for your tuition doesn’t give you the right to act like wolves. Some of us pay for our own education, you fucking morons.”

    They were so humiliated, they shut up. She looked like a real bitch too, so it helped.

    We all just gotta do our part, that’s all I’m saying. When people are talking around you, tell them to shut up.

  13. Issa said:

    When you tell them to shut up, with no help from the prof, it works for a minute, then they just get more emboldened to talk. Why should a student be put in such a position, you may have to work with one of these laptop addicted morons on some project in the future.

    • Rolling Boxes said:

      You’re right.Its hard to work with such students.They can sometimes if not always f**k your project up.

  14. 2ndYear-Electrical said:

    Don`t worry guys it get much much better in 2nd year. All these tough-look-alike guys will be weeded out and put on probation. LOL

  15. U of T said:

    you would never see this at U of T lol thats how you know Rye is for failures

  16. KATE said:

    I am in Social Work at Ryerson. I think that this issue shows how irresponsible and immature many students are. I understand Ryerson wants to keep high enrollment rates, but give people who want to come to class a chance. This is a large program at Ryerson and thousands of people apply and do not get accepted. Its simple, you dont want to come and sit respectfully and learn, you should not be in university. There should be a three strike policy yes, but towards students. Students should receive three warnings about being DISRESPECTFUL in class. Once they receive three, and do not make changes in their attitude they should be removed from the class and possibly the program. These students are not being considerate towards their fellow students that want to learn. Professors should be provided with microphones that work and will not run out of batteries every class. There should be an automatic microphone in those thousands of dollars media stands at the front of class. This issue is upsetting and its students with these poor attitudes that make me ashamed to be from this age group. We are the future, and I am scared shitless that maybe 7 years down the road this students will be in the workforce. Imagine one of those immature students throwing the airplanes could be building one. I am very scared for the future.

  17. Ed said:

    Kate,

    You should not fear that the problematic students will enter the workforce, there is a close to zero percent chance they will unless they make significant changes to how they value their own time.

    What is lacking from the solution to this situation is enforcement. The article clearly states disruptive behaviour is listed as the first offence in the non-academic code of conduct.

    For the sake of the students in class who want to be there to learn, there needs to be a mechanism to remove the disruptive behaviour from the classroom. The class monitor solution sounds like a good idea to me. The policy should be uniform across the school (i.e. where applicable, perhaps one monitor per 40-50 students), and individual departments should be able to select which classes require the presence of these monitors. Without a formal plan to deal with this growing problem, students will continue to unjustly suffer, and the reputation of Ryerson’s specific programs and as a whole will unjustly suffer.

  18. Joe said:

    Jesus Christ. You’re in university. As a first year at UofT, I have never seen a prof get mad at a student for interrupting him (except for this one time, where a students phone rang). Paper airplanes too, holy shit, how fucking retarded are these Ryerson people. This professor has every right to leave these students. I’m especially sorry for those who want to listen and learn. I guess this is one of the reasons why UofT students (including myself at this very moment after reading this) think Ryerson is a shitty school and is just home to those slackers in high school who didn’t work hard. We have lectures over 2000+ and have never once complained about noise issues. Even classes with 500 people and no mic like in math is no problem. The students at UofT don’t act this way, even the UofT slackers who don’t give a crap about lectures never disrupts his classmate learning. Bottom Line. Most Ryerson Students are stupid.

    • Mark said:

      Please open your mind; you cannot judge a whole set of students based off of the actions of a subset of first year students.

      Following your reasoning, I can see why most non UoT students think UoT students are a bunch of elitest pricks. However, I have a couple of friends from various universities: including UoT. Being a Ryerson Student has taught me to be respectful towards my peers and classmates.

      Stop stereotyping.

      • Rye Graduate---STUDENTS READ! said:

        Dear Student,

        First off you should note that “Joe” is an asshole. Please don’t take what he says personally. Clearly his above-and-beyond intelligent university has done nothing to teach him that stereotypying is done by “stupid” people. Though you can argue that this should have been a lesson learned much earlier in life – say middle school. Joe you are pathetic and why are you reading this article in the first place.

        To all the Ryerson students, I went to Ryerson for my undergrad (rejecting uoft!) with the feas and never once in the 4 years of being there, did anyone do anything remotely similar to what has happened to this class. Nor did I hear any stories like this from friends in other departments. I was shocked to read this article and am familiar with many of the profs mentioned.

        If this is happening more often then the students involved should be isolated and removed from the program permanently. This article is two years old but I hope everything has cleared up. I am sorry for the students that really are there to learn, good luck to you!

  19. rebecca said:

    I think this article leaned too much on the ‘blame-the-professor’ angle… What about the fact that our society’s “Millennial” generation is full of disrespectful students? I honestly think this issue is more about students who don’t understand the meaning of respecting elders than classroom management.

  20. Shaka said:

    I’m shocked. Have you seen the clowns who take engineering. The most socially awkward antisocial bunch ever. Stop and try to have a conversation with one of them and notice the lack of eye contact and low confidence in their speech. Looks like they are all future 40 year old virgins. Those Chinese kids need to step their confidence game up. I can’t imagine these students acting up, maybe they get all rowdy when they are in the midst of other extremely socially awkward people.

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