Editorial: CTEC reforms will aid learning

Two of the greatest philosophers of the past century, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, once remarked that the love you take is equal to the love you make. The CTEC system, which has been a priceless source of information for students during registration, finally is receiving the love it deserves.

A mandatory online CTEC system will debut in the fall — not in 2005 as Wednesday’s Daily stated. Students who do not fill out CTEC surveys will be prohibited from reading evaluations the next quarter. A new online system not only will make the process more efficient and remove elements of professorial meddling but ensure that students who mooch off CTECs do their fair share in providing future students with an accurate account of their experiences.

The new system needs teeth to reverse the trend of low responses for online evaluations. Paper CTECs yield much higher return rates than online evaluations. When few students respond, the results may misrepresent the quality of a course or professor. Ensuring accurate and representative CTECs also will have great value to individual departments, as student opinion plays a large role in determining promotions for professors and teaching assistants.

Administrators need to take steps, however, to prevent students from carelessly filling in responses to get the evaluations done quickly. Typically students with overwhelmingly positive or negative experiences in a course will take the time to voice their opinions, but the silent majority of students who skip evaluations may be tempted to take the easy way out in the mandatory system. Northwestern’s technology gurus surely can come up with some method to identify and dismiss these anomalies, thus completely fulfilling CTECs’ potential.

ASG stumbled with bike laws

Evanston’s recently expanded ban on bicycle riding on specific sidewalks certainly is annoying and inconvenient. More worrisome than the amended law, however, is the bafflingly incompetent response from Associated Student Government leaders to the situation.

Until informed otherwise by The Daily on Sunday, City Council Liaison Jim Lovsin believed riding had been banned on both sides of Foster Street between Sheridan Road and the El tracks. Then on Wednesday night the ASG Senate took the “dramatic” and “daring” step of considering a bill calling on city officials to communicate with students about the issue.

Here’s a better idea: Why don’t ASG’s community liaisons head down to the Evanston Civic Center and communicate with the city staff who actually make these decisions? Complaining at open meetings will do little once the council approves a law.

This is especially true with the amended bike ban, which still leaves a great deal of discretion to city staff in determining where the no-biking signs will go. One resident’s complaint tomorrow could prevent students from riding on Noyes Street for years. But 10 students, working with local biking enthusiasts to make their interests heard, could have a similarly dramatic impact.

The city also must have more respect for bikers. Forcing riders onto poorly kept streets with no bike lanes and drivers who often lack a basic understanding of bike signals could create a significant safety problem. Many students need to ride their bikes and deserve to be able to do so without fearing the wrath of an SUV.

Still, the law change at this point does not represent a major inconvenience to students. Those who want to bike on Foster near campus simply will have to cross to the south sidewalk if they don’t want to ride in the street.

As for the future, ASG leaders would be wise to adopt an air of professionalism when dealing with the city if they want ASG — and by extension the whole student body — to be taken seriously.