UBC to provide students writing exams in SRC with earplugs to block out construction noise

Due to ongoing construction surrounding the Student Recreation Centre (SRC) UBC will provide earplugs to students writing final exams in the SRC to help mitigate nearby noise.

UBC is currently constructing the new Student Recreation Centre North across the street from the SRC. Construction began earlier this fall and has an expected completion date of late 2024.

In an email to The Ubyssey, UBC Vice-Provost and Associate VP Teaching and Learning pro tem Simon Bates said “the university makes every effort to provide students with suitable space to complete exams.”

“We recognize adjacent construction noise at SRC may be distracting to some students, so are offering earplugs to mitigate that. While it’s not an ideal circumstance, it’s the best option given space constraints during an extremely busy compressed exam period where large exam venues are fully utilized.”

Some UBC community members voiced concern with this decision, with math professor Mark Mac Lean tweeting on November 28, “We’ve lost track of our purpose.”

In an interview with The Ubyssey, Mac Lean said the SRC is an important exam space — it can seat almost 900 students at a time, he said — and acknowledged the university’s external commitments to not halt construction.

But he still questioned UBC’s decision.

“What other top priority could we have? The students are writing exams,” he said.

Mac Lean expressed further concern with the process behind this decision, including whether UBC conducted any background research, such as sound measurements, to ascertain what type of disruptions might be expected for students writing exams.

He added that while there was ongoing construction last year, earplugs were not handed out, leading him to believe the change in policy this year might have resulted from noise complaints.

Bates did not speak to these questions in his statement.