Get to business

This semester the president of the Student Association is once again pushing the issue of publishing student-teacher evaluations. Students should be aware that this issue has been raised many times on this campus. Every time SA presidents need to demonstrate that they are working for the students, this idea gets reborn and rehashed. Publishing evaluations might appeal to some students, but there are many reasons for opposing their publication.

First, there is no evidence that making evaluations public knowledge increases the quality of education at any university. There are universities that have published student-teacher evaluations, but no one has demonstrated that instructors teach more effectively if their evaluations are published.

Second, publishing evaluations will not address the central problem that NIU students face today. The problem is not so much the quality of classes, but the quantity. During the past decade the state has reduced its share of funding for higher education and has caused the university to offer fewer classes. As a result, students are now locked in a Darwinian struggle with each other to find classes they need to graduate within five years. Publishing student-teacher evaluations does nothing to increase state funding or the number of classes offered. Isn’t this where the current Student Association president should be putting his efforts?

Finally, the SA president’s proposal may have unintended consequences for NIU students. If a university is required to publish student-teacher evaluations, then logically, teacher-student evaluations could also become public knowledge. I don’t think most students would support a policy that revealed their grades to anyone who wanted to know.

If we are interested in improving education at NIU, we should get down to the business of increasing state funding for higher education and forget about proposals that do nothing for NIU students.

Glenn Rodden

Graduate Student