The SGA, SRI’s, and Cowardice

The SGA, SRI’s, and Cowardice

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It has recently been brought to the attention of the Faculty Senate that the Student Government Association (SGA) would like Student Rating of Instruction (SRI) reports made available, anonymously, to department chairs.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. Why do students fill out those little reports? Do we do it because we want to get our final grades early? Probably. Do we do it because we honestly want to give a balanced and fair review? Rarely.

Do we fill them out so we can bash an instructor we didn’t like very much?

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All too often. This request, this issue, is one the SGA should drop.

It presupposes that one can only learn from an instructor he or she likes personally.

SRI does not stand for Student Rating of InstructOR. It stands for Student Rating of InsructION. You are not rating whether you think your teacher was mean, or smelled funny or didn’t agree with your incredibly deep and well thought-out views on the political process. You are rating the instruction on the given subject, be it math, science, English or otherwise.

Yet, often students don’t take this into account and use SRI reports as their own personal plaintive platform.

What is the SGA attempting to accomplish by making these SRI reports available to department chairs? In reality, they are taking little more than a stance of vain allegation and censure.

Somehow they’ve got it in their heads that professors, and by extension the university, are providing students a paid-for service known as “education.” Let’s make something very clear right now: We are not customers, and education is not a product. We are welfare cases, government subsidies for national knowledge, an investment in the felicitous gains of the United States.

Public higher education is heavily subsidized by the government. You think it costs a lot now? If those disappeared tomorrow, very few of us would be in college by next year.

Furthermore, professors, instructors, teachers – whatever you want to call them – do not serve you. They are not grocery store workers, or fast-food servers, waiters or waitresses; they are employees of the state. They don’t serve you, they serve the concept of education. They don’t teach you, they teach students and teach a class. And, if you should happen to be a student who is part of that class, you should consider yourself lucky.

This is where our generation’s reputation for entitlement is most apparent. We are not vested with the right for an education, it is a privilege kindly given to us by a system that considers an intelligent future desirable. Therefore, we ask again, what is the SGA’s point of requesting that ratings of instruction be submitted to department chairs and heads?

They can probably already get them if they really wanted, and could even see to whom they are attributed. Technology is a powerful thing. What right do students have to hold power over their instructor’s employment? Gross misconduct is one thing, but just because you don’t like a person doesn’t mean you should have the power to get them fired. Above all, most disturbing is the fact that, if the SGA got their way, these SRI reports would still be submitted anonymously. This is what the internet has done to us.

It has made us into a generation who will say everything, but won’t take responsibility for anything.

We live and die by our opinions – what we believe, how we think, who we trust, and what we surmise to be true. A comment, an assertion is a powerful thing, and to seek to hold sway over a person’s livelihood and reputation while hiding behind the shy veil of anonymity is the highest form of cowardice. This request by the SGA for SRI reports to be made readily available to department chairs and heads is inappropriate, and should be rescinded.


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