SA calls for evaluation boycott


The Student Association is stepping up its efforts to successfully lobby large numbers of NIU students to boycott their teacher evaluations in the face of growing opposition by faculty members.

The SA hopes the boycott will pressure the University Council into including a separate “student-centered” evaluation form in the packet containing departmental evaluations.

According to a SA press release, this questionnaire would contain questions developed by students to measure specific areas of instructional skill. Both of the evaluation forms would be completed during the same class period, but the second questionnaire would be returned directly to the SA as opposed to the university administration.

Some graduate teaching assistants voiced strong opposition to the release of their evaluations. Maria Pearcy, an instructor of COMS 100, said the release of the evaluations was unfair because many TAs were only in their first year of teaching. “Their experience changes them,” she said.

“You can manipulate statistics,” Pearcy said. “I don’t see that the ‘1 to 5′ evaluation is qualitative. I don’t believe they are a true reflection of the teacher or the teaching style.”

SA President Abe Andrzejewski disagreed with Pearcy. “If they’re not accurate, why are they used in merit pay raises and promotion decisions?”

Pearcy also said that since many of the class sections are listed in the schedule book as taught by “staff”, the release of the evaluations would not do students any good.

Another COMS TA agreed with Pearcy, saying evaluations should not be released under any circumstances. Michael Hughes said some students base their evaluations on how an instructor dresses or how he speaks. “Sometimes they don’t give teachers a fair chance,” he said.

Hughes said he might support the release of revised evaluation forms, like the type the SA is proposing. “I’d have to see the form,” he said. “I can’t shoot down something I haven’t seen, but it would have to cover a lot of bases.”

Members of the SA chalked sidewalks and blackboards with the phrase, “boycott teacher evaluations.” They put up 400 flyers and passed out 4,000 handbills in the King Memorial Commons, the Holmes Student Center bus terminus and the Center Cafe, Andrzejewski said.

The SA also called presidents of organizations Monday. They asked the presidents to ask their members for further support of the boycott. Finally, SA representatives attended chapter meetings for fraternities and sororities last night, to gain support.

The boycott comes after a failed effort by the SA to get general education instructors to release their evaluations voluntarily.

The SA sent letters out earlier this month to 343 instructors, asking permission to publish evaluation results. Only 27 instructors, or eight percent, responded. Of those, 19 gave permission for the release.

The SA planned to compile the evaluations in a booklet and make them available to students in time for class registration. “You don’t get anything by asking,” Adrzejewski said. “That’s why we are acting through a boycott.”