Rye: move your butts

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By Erin Rankin

The double-digit temperature drop has left Ryerson’s administration fuming as smokers huddle together and prop open doors to keep warm.

Julia Lewis, director of Ryerson’s health and safety department, said she wants to increase the distance people have to stand from school doorways while smoking.

“We try to accommodate smokers because we recognize smoking is an addiction. But smoke is entering buildings which make this a health and safety issue,” she said.

Although Lewis wouldn’t say how large the proposed distance would be, she said she will seek a variety of opinions and put the issue before Ryerson’s Health and Safety Committee before any action is taken.

Currently at the Business Management Building, smokers must stand 20 feet away from the building whenever they light up.

However, staff say that few smokers are standing at the regulated distance.

Ian Hamilton, director of campus planning, said with the onset of cold weather he has received complaints and has been asking security to kick smokers away from doors.

He said smokers usually return to the doors within minutes and a campus-wide ban would make more sense.

“We’re waiting for clarity around a proposed city by-law that would create a city-wide ban prohibiting smoking on all public property,” he said.

Both Hamilton and Lewis are likely to find support from Ryerson’s non-smoking community.

“There are a lot of smokers around Jorgenson and it is really unpleasant,” said RyeSAC Vice president of education Carlos Flores. “I’m forced to use those doors so I can’t avoid the smoke.”

Jeremy Littler smokes in front of Jorgenson Hall on his breaks and says he tries to be considerate and stand away from the doors as a courtesy to non-smokers.

Littler seems resigned to any new campus smoking restrictions.

“If the university wants to get people away from the doors I don’t have a problem with that. I’ll smoke somewhere else,” he said.

First-year students Ylenia Montagner and Jessica MacPhail who smoke with their friends underneath the overhand outside the stairwell at Jorgenson Hall, admitted to propping open the doors. Neither was aware Ryerson had a smoking policy.

Pay for edit, lose your credit

Attack on plagiarism soars to new heights as Ryerson no longer allows students to have their assignments to submit edited work.

BY JEN GERSON

Students who hand in edited class assignments are now in danger of being suspended or expelled after an amendment to the academic code of conduct was approved by Academic Council last week. The council’s goal was to target plagiarism via paid proofreading services, but critics already say it won’t work.

“[The change is] a little legal political compromise that allows us to think we’re doing something about the problem when we aren’t,” said English professor John Cook. Cook was a vocal opponent to the change during the last few Academic Council meetings.

The definition of plagiarism now includes the sentence “presenting another’s substantial compositional changes to an assignment as your own.” Prior to the amendment, plagiarism was only identified as copying another’s work, presenting another’s work or working collaboratively then claiming the work as your own.

Secretary of Academic Council Diane Schulman doesn’t think the amendment will change the way students do their work.

“I don’t think it should have any effect, she said. “Students ought to have known [that no one should be substantially changing their work]. We’re just making that clearer.”

Ryerson President Claudde Lajeunesse doesn’t feel the new wording is too subjective.

“It is subjective because what substantive and what is not is a matter for discussion and argument. But there’s nothing new in there. Faculty members always have to use subjective judgements in assessing the value of work,” he said.

When the amendment was first proposed it was aimed at eliminating paid proofreading services. But at last December’s academic council meeting, people were concerned such a policy change would target disabled students who rely on tutors and students who have English as a second language. A committee was created and the proposal went back to the drawing board.

After two hours of debate the reworked sentence and presented it to Academic Council.

Some on the council tried to have the word ‘substantial’ changed to ‘substantive’ to no avail. Many figured the difference would be lost on students.

But Cook said the plagiarism issues facing universities is bigger than a suffix.

“The problem is that we keep addressing complex issues with Band-Aid solutions,” he said. “I think we’ve got a situation where the essays have become primarily about evaluation and not about learning. Universities have become a grading institution, sorting out the good from the bad. Students should be doing assignments for themselves.”

Though the amendment doesn’t mention paid editing services, Sheila O’Neil of the Ryerson Learning and Teaching Centre said the amendment is still aimed at eliminating paid proofreading, not peer editing.

“We have a problem with people buying professional services and not doing the work,” she said. “There is a certain natural reciprocal editing help that goes on between students … if it isn’t making any substantial changes, I think that’s natural.”

According to Cook, universities are only encouraging plagiarism by putting pressure on students to get good grades rather than to make mistakes and learn.

“Students resort to stupid measures when they feel that their assignments are not about learning,” he said.

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