TARDY SCHEDULES LEAVE STUDENTS IN THE DARK

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By Richard Maerov

Despite pleas and demands from students and faculty for an early release of course schedules, student timetables were not posted on RAMSS until Dec. 27 — two weeks before classes started.

This made it difficult for some students to commit to work and other activities. “I’ve had to put looking for part-time work on hold until now,” said Heather Fletcher, a second-year radio and television arts student. “It’s frustrating because working is essential for me to be here.”

Matt Bueno, a fourth-year applied chemistry and biology student, has applied for a teaching assistant position, but says the late timetable release delays his department’s hiring procedure. “They are still trying to figure out if my courses conflict with their schedule. I don’t know if I’m going to have to find another job next week,” he said.

Students who need to schedule their work hours have to guess what their schedules might look like. Jennifer Dhara, a fourth-year business management student, needed to book her work hours for 2006 in December. “Once my course timetable was posted, I had to rearrange my courses so that they wouldn’t conflict with my work schedule,” she said.

“I ended up having to drop some classes and take other courses that I didn’t really want.”

Students at the University of Toronto and York University don’t have this problem because they know their timetable as soon as they register for their courses, Dhara said. Registrar Keith Alnwick said he recognizes the challenges the late timetable distribution presents.

“We don’t want students to think for a second that we are not aware of the problems associated with the scheduling timing,” he said. “We know that lots of students are working and have other responsibilities outside of school.” He says that that limited space for classes and the specialized nature of Ryerson programs make it an “enormously complex challenge” to create timetables for more than 20,000 students.

“There are monstrous differences between Ryerson and other universities. Our programs require students to take a very specific package of courses, and participate in extensive studio and clinical placement activity.”

Departments wait until all students have registered and confirmed their courses before scheduling classes. As the last add/drop period is in October, departments don’t deliver their list of courses to the registrar until early December.

Academic standings are determined before course enrolment for the winter term is finalized. But many people think that this process can still be sped up. Dave Mason, president of the Ryerson Faculty Administration, said he’s fed up of the university refusing to improve scheduling efficiency.

“A complete lack of respect of student, and full- and part-time faculty, as evidenced by the ongoing nature of the scheduling problem has been the status quo as long as anyone can remember,” he stated in a motion put forward at an Academic Council meeting in December.

The motion, which was approved, asked for an ad hoc committee to recommend how to resolve the problem and report back to the next council meeting in March. Alnwick, who is now preparing a report for the review, is keen to improve the system.

“Believe me, the people the most eager are the timetable staff who were working on Christmas Day,” he said. “We need to get to a situation where they are not subjected to this.” He said they will re-work the process so winter 2007 timetables can be distributed at least a month earlier than usual.

“We just need to figure out what repercussions we are willing to accept,” he said.

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