On Tuesday May 19 the University of Waterloo senate passed an amendment to the exam regulations that prohibits students from bringing food to final exams.</p>
According to the motion presented to senate, the regulations change was introduced to address two issues. The first reason given was to reduce distractions, noting that both the noise and smell of the food could pose a distraction to other students. Secondly, the change was made to reduce the potential for unauthorized aids. Because of the same concern regarding academic integrity, water must be in a clear container with no labels.
Ray Darling, the university registrar, explained that discussions on this regulation change were first had in May 2014. This was triggered by a formal complaint from a student who was distracted by someone eating food while writing an exam in the PAC. While the university has heard complaints before, this was the first formal complaint they had received.
“Given the fact that Waterloo is committed to improving the integrity of our final examinations, [the formal complaint] presented an opportunity for us to respond to the student’s concerns and at the same time, advance the integrity of the administration of final exams here at Waterloo,” said Darling.
A survey done by UW to inform its decision found that it was one of two universities in Ontario that allows food during the writing of final exams.
Water is still allowed and special accommodations can be made through AccessAbility Services, at least two weeks before the start of the exam period.
On the accommodations, Darling explained, “We don’t anticipate a large number of students who’ll need accommodation since we’ll have provisions in place whereby students can ask a proctor to escort them into the hallway to allow them to [have] a quick bite if needed.
“Long hours of study, low blood sugar…there are reasons why it may be necessary for a student to request a nutrition break however, we don’t foresee many who’ll need special accommodations that will allow the student to consume food continuously throughout the exam.”
This new regulation comes into force immediately and will be applicable to final examinations for the spring term.