Paying tuition and paying for a class spot can be completely unrelated to one another if you’re desperate. PHOTO: SIERRA BEIN

One student’s seat is another’s cash

In News /

By Laura Woodward

The rush of early wakeups and RAMSS anxiety over course selection is over: for a price.

Rojin Shahba, a first-year computer science student, paid $100 to Harold Ariyaratnam for his spot in professor Eric Harley’s computer science (CPS) 209 class.

Shahba planned to wake up early the morning of course selection – New Year’s Day – to ensure her spot in Harley’s section but she woke up 20 minutes late, leaving her stuck in the other course section.

“His class was full and I had four 8 a.m. classes. It was pretty hectic and I commute from Richmond Hill so it’s like a two-hour ride. So it’s pretty hard for me to wake up for 8 a.m. classes,” Shahba said.

“I honestly couldn’t accept the fact that I had to wake up at 5:30 a.m. every morning. So I posted a status on a computer science group on Facebook and I said if anyone wants to sell their spot in Harley’s class, I’m going to pay them $100.”

Shahba got two replies. One student’s lab didn’t match her schedule but the second offer, from Harold Ariyaratnam, was a match.

“We switched at Tim Hortons, we both had our laptops there,” Ariyaratnam said.

After the successful switch, Shahba earned her spot in the later class and Ariyaratnam earned $100 cash.

“I think anyone would take $100 for a spot,” he said.

But Lucia Flaim, administrative assistant of the computer science department, said Shahba could have saved her money by turning to the department.

“If [the desired class] is not available, we would ask the student why the switch is required,” Flaim said. “And according to what this student says, we would try to accommodate her. But the rationale behind it has to be a sound one.”

The course did not have an option to wait list Shahba for a spot.

“Sometimes we have ways to know whether or not it is possible to squeeze a student in even if it looks like it’s full,” Flaim said.

But the lack of a wait list made Shahba take the situation into her own hands.

“As far as we know, no such request [for a wait list] was brought forward because students had been accommodated,” Flaim said.

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