OPINION: The postponement of CEQs is unfair to students and professors

In June, Memorial released this statement regarding the suspension of CEQs (Course Evaluation Questionnaires) until after winter 2021. The Senate Community for Course Evaluation (SCCE) “recommended a new purpose statement for the CEQ and the need to revisit the CEQ instrument and processes accordingly” and offered survey tools for instructors to take feedback from students. The decision to do maintenance on the CEQ system was made in a meeting in April.

As a student, the decision to suspend CEQs during an unprecedented and difficult time for both students and professors feels unfair. In a time when school is at an increased difficulty, students should be able to give feedback to professors. As well, professors should welcome feedback from students as this is a new and confusing time for all. Together, we could learn how to learn and teach better.

However, without the CEQs, how are students supposed to feel comfortable to voice their opinions about professors? The CEQs give students the ability to give unbiased and anonymous reviews of their professors. Whether the professor’s class was good or bad, students could take the opportunity at the end of the semester to give their honest opinion about the course without fear of academic repercussions. It can be very scary to approach a professor with concerns, and unfortunately it feels very unacceptable and taboo to provide feedback to your professor – particularly if that feedback is negative since a student will inevitably fear academic repercussion, even if the professor is one who is accepting of feedback.

I believe that the decision to cancel CEQs until winter 2021 was also kept quiet by the University, purposely leaving students out of the loop. At the end of every semester I have spent at MUN, I have received an email from the Centre for Institutional Analysis and Planning reminding me to fill out my CEQs. It is suspicious that students were not sent out a mass email explaining the reasoning behind this decision. Ideally, students would have been consulted through a survey regarding the decision to cancel CEQs since the decision primarily affects students.

I am not the only student who believes this decision was unfair. I consulted some other students, and here is what they had to say.

University students’ worth is determined by numbers, by marks, GPAs, and percentages that can appear attached to our names down to a 100th of a point. Yet, when CEQs are taken away from us, the people who determine our so-called worth by way of such a system are not able to be held accountable for their constant constructed judgement of us. They are not able to be recognised for their leadership nor have it noted when they embody a lack thereof. These people, of course, are our professors, they’re supposed to be our mentors and they should be our role models. Personally, my role models take constructive criticism with gratitude, ever seeking to better themselves by putting more compassion, kindness, and self-awareness out into the world.

Why is Memorial University stripping away this humanising experience from its professors?

All we want is to be able to have our experiences, good and bad, with our professors acknowledged and truly valued. This is not because we want to dehumanise them – as marks certainly do of us and our experiences – but because we genuinely care about learning and we know that they care a lot about what they are teaching us. We want to learn in ways that are conducive to our thriving, that infuse us with excitement, fascination and a drive to know and be more aware of this wild old world around us. But in doing that, we deserve to be invested in, and genuinely cared about as people, just as we ourselves invest thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and incalculable effort into this university.
Is seeking to bring some humanity back into our academic experience too much to ask?   

Mollie Symons

Online learning impacts professors as well as students. Teachers and professors are forced to change the way they teach just as students are forced to change the way they learn. It is unfair that students are still being graded while teachers and professors get a free pass because it may be difficult for them to adapt their teachings.

Komran Mackey

The cancellation of CEQ’s is extremely frustrating, as it does now allow students the opportunity to reflect upon a course, but it also does not give instructors the opportunity to learn, especially after an entirely new semester format. It feels as if MUN really does not care about their students as they are taking away one of students only methods of providing feedback.

Emily Keeping

It is discouraging that the university has not found another way for students to provide well needed and deserved feedback to our professors. If there was a need to upgrade the CEQs, it should have been done at another time. Students deserve the ability to provide feedback, both concerns and praise. I guess that students from MUN will be more reliant than ever on ratemyprofessors.com.

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