The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Mad at your professors? Do something about it!

The first thing my father told me when I went off to college was to research my instructors. “Just because they’re getting paid to teach doesn’t mean they’re any good at it. A bad professor can ruin a semester.”

Admittedly, I didn’t really listen to him at the time. Honestly, how bad can a professor be? I figured that even if I got dealt a loser here or there, I’d be fine-just jump through the hoops and all that jazz.

However, after a few semesters here, I have ruefully come to understand that my dad was right: A bad instructor isn’t just something you can ignore. Bad instructors can ruin your GPA and set you back in your major. They waste your money and your time. Worst of all, one bad class can negatively affect all your other classes.

Since my freshman year, I have had some good professors, a few indifferent professors and one or two outright awful professors. I imagine that everyone at the U can say the same.

In all honesty, I could have researched my professors better. If I had made the extra effort, I probably wouldn’t have ended up in classes where TAs wrote quizzes, no one had any idea what was going to be covered on the exams and filmstrips counted as lectures.

The thing about awful professors is that invariably, they’ve been around for quite some time. Therefore, someone you know has probably already taken a class from them. Unfortunately, you always seem to hear about your friends’ experiences well after the last day to delete the class.

Students at this school have an obligation to each other. If you suffer through a class with a horrible professor, you have to let other students know about it. Otherwise, you’ve let someone else make the same mistake you did and you have no right to complain about your own experience. You would have wanted someone to tell you-therefore, you have an obligation to tell others.

There are two main ways for students to voice their opinions about their professors: student advisory committees (SACs) and end of-semester evaluations.

Unfortunately, not many students are taking advantage of these resources.

Every department at the university has a SAC. The SAC gives a voice to the students in that particular department. It is responsible for administering course evaluations for all classes in the department at the end of each semester. The committee also reviews course evaluations in order to recommend professors within the department for retention, promotion or tenure.

Despite all of these benefits, it doesn’t seem like people take advantage of their SACs. They don’t communicate with the committee members and they don’t apply to become new members. It’s not all just on the average student, either. Most of us don’t know who makes up our departments’ SACs or when they meet.

However, students need to make an effort to find those things out when they have a legitimate complaint against a faculty member.

Additionally, students need to fill out end-of-semester evaluations honestly. It seems as though students fill out evaluations indifferently, if at all. Furthermore, hardly anyone looks up the results when they’re pondering which classes to take.

What good are these evaluations if there’s nothing constructive or honest in them? If you felt a professor was a good lecturer but a poor exam writer, why don’t you say so?

Why is it that students are so willing to complain about an incompetent professor when they are in the class, but so unwilling to make the effort of telling others about it later?

It doesn’t take long to type a couple of sentences that could save someone else a whole lot of grief.

U students need to take evaluations seriously.

If you really felt a professor wasn’t any good, you need to tell other students. The responsibility in this case lies with us.

If your younger brother or sister was about to sign up for a class from the worst professor you’d ever had, naturally, you’d say something.

So why wouldn’t you tell a few thousand strangers, if that’s the way you really felt?

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