“I will sell my seat in Set Theory, PHL349H1 if anyone wants the course.”
This is a real example of the type of messages that are now appearing on University of Toronto Facebook groups and mass emails. Some students are willing to sell and buy spots in fully booked courses after waitlists drop, in an attempt to bargain their way into the course. These students may either offer to trade places with another student or give them money in return for dropping a course at a coordinated time.
Glenn Loney, assistant dean in the Faculty of Arts & Science said that there is no current penalty against this practice, but that other methods of coercion can be used against students. “This small interval without waitlists may leave a moment when a student may try to arrange a drop/add and ask something for doing it, but this hasn’t been a widespread phenomenon over the years. There is no university rule specifically forbidding it, as there isn’t with many things, but students doing this often find themselves on the receiving end of angry emails from other students. Rather than rely on rules and penalties, we are working on a more systematic approach that would frustrate anyone trying to coordinate such a drop/add tactic,” he said.
Students who are not able to get into courses that are required for graduation are able to invoke a clause known as the Dean’s Promise.
“The Dean’s Promise is a very specific promise,” said Loney, explaining that the clause allows a student to be placed in a course after waitlists have dropped only if he or she has followed all of the normal processes and is still lacking a required course.
Despite the promise, many final-year students still struggle to get into the classes they want. Last year, recent U of T graduate Maria Chenzaie attempted to enroll in a third-year Women Writers course that would have satisfied the requirements for her English major. When she went to her registrar for help enacting the Dean’s Promise, she was told that the office would look into what could be done.
“They weren’t very helpful because they ultimately didn’t get me in the class. It also took them some time to see what they could do for me. When they finally got back to me, they told me that I wasn’t eligible for it. I went to class for a few weeks and bought the book for nothing, after waiting on the waitlist,” she said.
Students who are frustrated with the lack of resources and assistance that is supposed to be offered in the Dean’s Promise sometimes resort to taking matters into their own hands. It is not uncommon to see mass emails asking students in departments such as history or psychology — where classes are organized into special categories — for their place in a course. One student sent those in a second-year developmental psychology course an email offering $100 to anyone who would be willing to drop PSY201, a statistics course that is a requirement for psychology majors.