SA letter requests evaluation release

By Matt Gilbert

The Student Association is sending out a letter to general education instructors asking for their help in giving students information they can use in planning class schedules.

SA President Abe Andrzejewski released the letter Monday. It asks instructors for their permission to release portions of evaluations done by students during the latter part of each semester. He said all letters will be sent out by mid-morning today.

The university itself cannot release the evaluations. Professors’ evaluations are not covered by the Illinois Freedom of Information Act because they are used in making personnel decisions, Andrzejewski said.

Instead of continuing attempts to get the university to release the evaluations, this semester the SA decided to ask professors and graduate assistants individually to release them.

Andrzejewski promised to publish the names of professors who do not want to cooperate. “We feel their lack of cooperation is a sufficient evaluation of their own confidence in their abiltiy to teach,” he said.

The SA’s letter asks only for “the compiled empirical portion of the evaluations; we are not interested in the written commentary.”

“That’s part of the evaluation that tends to needle the professors most,” Andrzejewski said. “It can be very personal and derogatory.”

The letter, which is authored by Andrzejewski, notes that students are presently enrolling for classes for next semester. “At Northern, this is a process frought with uncertainty and confusion,” the letter reads. “In our attempts to select the classes that will benefit us the most, we are often forced to rely on information from individual students claiming to have some knowledge of the course or the professor teaching it. Unfortunately, this information often takes the form of negative departmental innuendo or personal opinions, which creates a situation that benefits neither students nor instructors.

“In recognition of this situation, the Student Association has initiated efforts to collect and publish student teacher evaluations in a booklet that will be made available to undergraduates near the first of April this spring. Our successful completion of this project depends on your cooperation and help.”

The letter contains a form for professors and grad assistants to fill out asking for a list of courses they teach, class syllabi and a brief description of courses the professors teach to be printed in the booklet.