By Sarah Boesveld
Sarah Weinrauch wants to spend her Reading Week going on weekend excursions and making arrangements for a trip she plans to take this summer.
Instead she’ll be studying for her Corporate Tax midterm, scheduled for the tail end of study week — a sacred seven days when academic activity is traditionally stalled.
The fourth-year accounting and marketing major said classmates are annoyed by the scheduling, but don’t plan to complain for fear of getting on their prof’s bad side. “Nobody wants to put up a fight,” she said.
But vice provost students Zouheir Fawaz said he believes it is against school policy for a full-time undergrad class to have midterms during Reading Week, or hold any academic events if students are inconvenienced by it.
“You can’t schedule exams during study break, it’s an official week off for students,” Fawaz said, adding that specialized and intensive classes are exempt from the rule, but the Corporate Tax class does not fall in that category.
Students and teachers can make special mutual agreements, Fawaz said, but it is against policy if a student’s voiced grievance is ignored.
“Even if one student (finds the arrangement) disagreeable, it cannot be enforced against them,” he said.
Professor Daria Sydor said as far as she knows, she is the only professor in the department that has scheduled a midterm during Reading Week. As of yet, she said no one has brought forth concerns to her about the time slot.
The test was originally scheduled for March 1st, but Sydor pushed it to Reading Week so there would be enough testable material, but also so there would be ample time to mark the midterms before the drop date of March 9.
An informal poll of the class was taken, and no one seemed distressed about it, she said. Some people did say they had plans for the break, but told her they would change them in order to write the midterm.
“From what I gather, the students didn’t have any complaints.”
Scheduling a midterm during Reading Week does not only involve the professor and the students. A classroom must be booked and the university must be informed, Fawaz said.
And when students feel intimidated into consenting to a midterm during reading week, that’s when the university must get involved. Fawaz encourages anyone to pay him a visit, adding that the chair of the program should also be willing to help. But Sydor is the program chair. The new time slot for the midterm further inconveniences students because it is on a different day from their normal class, said Weinrauch.
Regular class time is Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The midterm is scheduled for Friday the 23 at 6 p.m. There is no concrete policy stating that professors can or cannot schedule midterms during reading week, said Nora Farrell, Ryerson’s Ombudsperson, referring to the course management policy that states that tests cannot be held in the last week of class before the examination period, but does not mention reading week tests.
The university is open during reading week, but it is rare that students would have to write a test while classes are not in session, said Keith Alnwick, Ryerson’s registrar. “I’ve never known this to happen before,” he said.
Alnwick said it is specifically a course management issue.
In the meantime, Ryerson Students’ Union vice-president education Nora Loreto said at least one student has approached her about the issue. She plans to casually discuss the midterm with Sydor.
— with files from Alex Nassiri