By Graham Slaughter
Vedran Burdzovic, a third-year business student, scrambled into class late, expecting to quietly grab a seat. But his professor, who Burdzovic wouldn’t name “out of respect,” gave him the boot.
“I’ve never seen someone react like that. He just freaked out.”
Burdzovic isn’t alone. Students have reported being locked out, kicked out and losing marks off their final grade just for arriving late to class.
Without an official Ryerson policy on student lateness, professors
have the license to write their own set of rules.
English professor Sarah Henstraexpects late students to wait outside until the break. She doesn’t always buy the argument that students are behind the clock because of a tough commute.
“It’s very obvious when there has been a transit disaster because a big group of students will come in all together,” said Henstra.
A commuter herself, Henstra says her policy teaches professionalism.
“It just doesn’t fly in the real world to be late.”
Alex Bowmer, a second-year radio and television arts student, took Henstra’s class last year when he lived in residence. This year, Bowmer commutes from Georgetown and is thankful he’s not in one of her lectures.
“If I got to her class at 9:12 a.m. and not 9:10 a.m., I’d be screwed,” said Bowmer.
Like many other commuter students, Bowmer’s ride to class is consistently late. When a professor writes their rules around lateness, Bowmer said they should think about the unreliable nature of public transit.
“There just doesn’t seem to be much consideration, especially when you’re teaching in a school with so many commuters,” said Bowmer. “It’s out of our control.”
Ryerson theatre students face a different set of rules. Second-year acting student Alex Coté said that his classes don’t have a ten-minute grace period.
“We start on the dot and we finish on the dot as well. We can’t afford to lose ten minutes here and there,” said Coté.
If an acting student is late twice in the same class, they are given one point. After three points, they fail. Sometimes, stepping in late isn’t even an option.
“Our movement teacher next semester has been known to just close the door and you can’t come in,” said Coté.
Liana Salvador, vice-president education for the Ryerson Students’ Union, doesn’t think professors always consider why students are late.
“[Professors] need to acknowledge the diversity of reasons students are late and not assume that they don’t care,” said Salvador.
Salvador said it doesn’t make sense to bar students from the lectures and labs they have paid for.
“If professors prevent students from attending the classes they locked them out of then are they going to start reimbursing them for missed classes?”
Ryerson president Sheldon Levy noted that professors should consider individual circumstances before enforcing rigid rules for students who are running late.
“We should expect faculty members to take into consideration that one size doesn’t fit all,” he said.
But Levy also added that professors must also ensure that those who are on time are not disrupted by their colleague’s lateness.
“Professors are responsible to ensure a positive, productive learning environment.”
Photo: Chelsea Pottage