I didn’t really focus too much on school this past reading week, so it was only really today that I managed to read this email from the Arts and Science Faculty Registrar explaining an alternative to the cell phone policy during the exam period. For the past three years that I’ve been a student at the University of Toronto, the option has been to either leave your phone at home or place it in your bag in a designated area at the front, and has now been expanded to allow phones to be placed in non-transparent bags under the desk you are writing at until the end of the exam.
I found myself pleasantly surprised not only in that the higher-ups are actually taking into account students’ concerns on theft, but also in their recognition of how impractical and unrealistic it is to assume that we would actually be able to use our phones discretely enough to cheat in the first place.
I know what it’s like to have that conflicting dread about whether or not to bring your phone to an exam and I’m sure alot of other people feel me on this: you’re screwed if you leave your phone at home, but then if you do bring it and leave it at the front you risk having it stolen (I’m sure it’s even worse than it was a few years ago now with the iPhone 5, the new Blackberry, etc.) Phones are expensive these days and do not just serve as a means of communication anymore, become your life, something that most of us young adults rely on when out in the real world. You have apps for checking out what’s good to eat on your lunch break, maps for if you get lost…it’s common to feel a sense of anxiety leaving home without such a valuable resource.
When I read the newsletter this morning my first impression was that I thought it was a wonderfully revolutionary alternative to an old school and paranoid way of conceptualizing cheating. However, when I did some digging I found that many other schools in Ontario also have the same policy, and have for a while now (Queen’s, Brock and Ryerson, just to name a few). I’m just wondering what took so long, and how many complaints were lodged before something was actually done about this and why U of T is just now hopping on the bandwagon and exhibiting some concern for its students’ belongings and well-being. I wish I had the time today to delve into this issue further but I just thought I would take a quick look and compare the policy change to other universities, it’s interesting what you find when you look into it.
In the end I do take the rules seriously and agree that they are not meant to be broken, but either followed or changed. And in this case U of T has made a good change, it’s about time considering that we are primarily a commuter school and it is not always necessarily an option to leave your phone at home.
What are your thoughts on bringing cell phones into an exam? Should this change have taken place long ago?