Student Senate votes for evaluation accessibility

Chad Hamblin

While some Web sites allow students to complain about their teachers, the Student Senate wants something more.

The Student Senate passed two resolutions Thursday in hopes of making official University teacher evaluations more accessible to students. Still, the Senate’s plans cannot move forward without the cooperation of professors and One Stop officials.

The first resolution encourages more professors to release their evaluations to the students and publish them on the One Stop Web site.

Currently, the official evaluations can only be published on One Stop if professors approve.

Approximately 20 percent of professors release their evaluations, said Taqee Khaled, a Graduate and Professional Student Assembly representative on the Student Senate who presented the resolution.

“We believe that the overall percentage is pretty poor, and we want that to increase,” he said.

Student Senate Chairman Nathan Wanderman added, “It’s miserable.”

The second resolution the Senate passed wants official teacher evaluations to be more accessible on the One Stop Web site.

Instead of being “buried” on the Web site, Wanderman said, he wants a link directly on the course guide section so it is easier to access.

“Say you’re going to register for underwater basket-weaving,” he said. “You can click on a link and see the course evaluations for all the teachers doing underwater basket-weaving.

“This I think would simplify the process,” he said.

The link on the course guide site would give students a listing of all the professors teaching that course. The student could then select a professor and view his or her official University evaluation.

If a professor has not allowed to publish his or her evaluations, the link on the Web site will notify students of this.

Wanderman said this will create more student demand for official evaluations and encourage professors to release theirs.

“It’s giving teachers an incentive,” he said. “It will look a lot worse if they don’t.”

Allowing official evaluations on the course guide site will also give students a better idea of what to expect, Wanderman said.

“They have a better idea of what that course is going to be like,” he said.

The Student Senate will not present the resolutions in front of the University Senate and instead will go to One Stop.

“I think it would encounter more resistance than it’s worth,” Wanderman said. “I think it should be the students who have a say on this.”

Annie Hanauer, a first-year dance student, said she did not know the teacher evaluations were available on One Stop.

“It probably would be helpful to have them available,” she said. “It might be kind of nice, because a lot of the time, the professor determines the quality of the class.”

Third-year student Andy Graca said he disagreed. He has not had any trouble finding classes with professors he liked, he said.

“Plus, if only 20 percent are posting it, then I don’t know how much of a difference that could make,” he said.

Lynne Newton, an anthropology graduate student, said she thinks it is a “great idea.”

“It gives more power to the students,” she said. “I think anything that will help instructors improve their teaching is beneficial for everyone.”

Before the Student Senate passed the two resolutions, University President Bob Bruininks spoke with the student senators about the forecasted $700 million dollar budget deficit and its effects on the University. His talk was similar to the one he gave to the Minnesota Student Association Forum on Tuesday.