Soup-slurping student sparks ban on food in exams at University of Waterloo

One student's decision to bring soup to a final exam has sparked a ban on food in exams at the University of Waterloo.

'The student was actually slurping their noodles during the final examination'

A University of Waterloo student launched a formal complaint after another student was slurping noodles and soup during a final exam. (Left: anaken2012/Shutterstock; right: Andrea Bellemare/CBC)

Thanks to a hungry student who brought a bowl of noodle soup to a final exam, the University of Waterloo senate has amended exam rules and banned students from bringing in food and water bottles with labels.

The ban stems from a complaint lodged by a student about another student in a final exam in April 2014.

"This particular student ... was complaining about there was a student who actually had a bowl of, it sounds like soup or something. Because the student was actually slurping their noodles during the final examination," said Ray Darling, the University of Waterloo registrar.

"I mean I could see a granola bar that you could kind of chew quietly, but unfortunately there were incidents like this once in a while," said Darling, who noted that the school was one of the last two in the province to allow consumption of food in final exams. 

Darling consulted with both the undergraduate student relations committee and graduate student relations committee, and then presented his recommendation to the senate on May 19. They approved the new regulation, which went in to force on May 20.

But Darling was clear the rule changed wasn't just about students being distracted by smells or sounds, but a matter of academic integrity.

"Certainly we've caught students in [the] past with answers on bottles or on food wrappers," said Darling.

"Unfortunately there are some students who try to bring in unauthorized aids into final exams to assist them. Having food or drinks in there just allows another opportunity to do that."


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