At 6 a.m.—well before sunrise—Melodie Meleskie gets out of bed two days per week to make her breakfast (fruit and toast with peanut butter and jelly) before rushing to her accounting lecture, which begins at 7 a.m.
“With such an early class I’ve found it hard to concentrate,” says the first-year Wilfrid Laurier University business student. “Even the on-campus coffee shops [aren’t] open yet.”
Ontario universities accepted a record number of students last year, 50 per cent more than a decade earlier, and there hasn’t been enough new classroom space to accommodate the crunch. That means officials can’t always find classroom space within the normal nine-to-five work day.
At Laurier, registrar Ray Darling says the main reason for scheduling such early classes is “quite simply a lack of space.” In 2011, Laurier demolished a building that housed many business classes in order to begin construction of their new Global Innovation Exchange (GIE) building, set to open in 2015. That resulted in a “space crunch.” The original plan was to schedule some classes on Saturdays but after a backlash against that proposal, the school opted to put some first-year classes early in the morning. He thinks the schedule might return back to normal in 2015.
At Ryerson University, registrar Charmaine Hack gives a similar explanation for scheduling classes as early as 8 a.m., calling it a “practical necessity.” She says 8 a.m. classes are nothing new and has received complaints about them for years from students and instructors.
Brittany Starkman, a second-year Radio and Television Arts student at Ryerson, says her main problem with the 8 a.m. classes, which she had little choice but to take, was her 90-minute commute from Richmond Hill, Ont., which meant getting up before 6 a.m. “It sucked,” she says. “I had to make arrangements to stay over downtown or I’d just skip,” she says. Skipping was a waste of money.
Some feel differently. Second-year Ryerson nursing student Olivia Kavanagh says she enjoys 8 a.m. classes because she finishes earlier. “It’s over and I still have the rest of the day.”
Sarah Cunningham-Scharf is a journalism student at Ryerson University.