by Sonja Puzic
Ryerson University will spend about $48,000 to hold several final exams at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this December.
The university has booked the Convention Centre for three days during the exam period to accommodate some classes of more than 500 students at a rate of $16,000 a day, according to Diane Schulman, director of the office of the provost.
“(We booked) a large hall that will allow for maximum flexibility (and accommodate) exams that are quite large,” said Schulman.
Provost and Vice President Academic Errol Aspevig sent a mass e-mail last week informing all students, staff and faculty that the Convention Centre was booked due to lack of space on campus.
“With the continuing growth in programs, classes and enrolment at Ryerson over the past several years, our need for space for large exams has also grown,” Aspevig wrote. “This change will result in better exam schedules.”
Holding large exams in one sitting at the Convention Centre will allow for a shorter exam period this term, but some students question the university’s venue choice.
“I think $16,000 a day is a little excessive,” said John Silver, a third-year chemical engineering student. “And I think writing an exam at the Convention Centre is pretty weird. That’s where I go for the Auto Show every year.”
Registrar Keith Alnwick said Ryerson looked at other facilities, including hotels, before booking the Convention Centre, but none of them could accommodate hundreds of students.
“The alternatives were not as attractive,” he said, adding that the $16,000 a day price tag is reasonable considering the problem at hand. “This is a good solution,” he said.
“In the context of the university’s budget and the importance of the examinations, this is money well spent,” Aspevig said. “It’s a good idea for a very small cost.”
Alnwick said professors with exams in the Convention Centre will be notified at least 10 days prior to the release of the official exam schedule on Nov.4.
“We want to ensure that the (Convention Centre) runs as an effective facility,” he said. “There will be lots of signage so that people will know what to do and where to go.”
Director of Arts and Contemporary Studies program and economics professor Mark Lovewell said he has no objections to supervising an exam at the Convention Centre as long as it’s in a room of “good size.” Lovewell’s large classes may be selected to write their exams at the Convention Centre and he said that may be better than packing students into the gym.
“We are really outgrowing our capacity,” Lovewell said. “As long as it’s handled appropriately I think this could work.”