Last week, the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) released a Facebook post raising concerns on a current ban of laptops being enforced in various classes on the St. George campus.
The UTSU’s VP University Affairs Joshua Gordin told The Medium that the laptop ban was brought to the union’s attention last year during the Academic and Students’ Right Commission. To demonstrate their problem with the ban, students decided to use laptop stickers saying, “Say No To The Laptop Ban.” They also started a postcard campaign.
This year, they have designed new graphic stickers and developed a webpage where students can express their concerns regarding the ban. Gordin stated that already seventy-five students have submitted their claims, and their professors have been contacted about them. They are now working with the Arts and Sciences Students’ Union to lobby with the dean and arts and science Council to introduce guidelines to protect students against the ban.
Gordin also stated the wastage of paper, dependency of Accessibility students on laptops, as some of the reasons why this ban should not be implemented.
UTM’s academic handbook, states that, “Rather than banning or regulating devices, if you [the professor] have strong feelings on the topic, it may be sufficient to articulate your preferences or expectations about etiquette clearly at the outset, in a way that does not make any undeclared disabled student feel self-conscious or conspicuous. For example, you may request that laptop users not play games or watch videos or that students using devices seat themselves on the sides and rear of the room to avoid distracting other students.”
In reference to this, the Vice Dean of Teaching and Learning Andrew Petersen said that no division of U of T, specifically UTM, is contemplating this ban. It is a ban that is, as of now, being pushed by a small number of faculty, meaning it is conditional upon the professor’s preference.
A UTM spokesperson told us that the instructors determine what resources are permitted in the classroom and the university will ensure students receive reasonable accommodations so that they can meet the academic requirements of each course and program.
According to the spokesperson, a few professors at UTM have asked students to not use laptops during classes, but the request is not a hard rule or strictly being enforced.