CTEC mandate positive change

Last Thursday, the University Senate approved a mandate that will require professors to publish the numeric sections of their CTECs online. This legislation brings much needed accountability to professors – who previously had the right to withhold their class ratings from students.

This mandate is an important victory for Associated Student Government, although ASG was not directly responsible for its creation or approval. The mandate is the product of a proposal by the provost’s CTEC Advisory Committee. After its February approval by the General Faculty Committee, the bill was finally approved by the University Senate last week.

The majority of Northwestern professors already post their CTECs voluntarily. Prior to last week’s mandate, professors had the right to display either all or none of their evaluations for a particular class. Professors still had the right to bury their bad grades from students, even after CTECs became mandatory for students May 2004.

Mandatory CTECs have been a concern for ASG since spring 2004. In April, the issue was a cornerstone of Academic Vice President Jordan Fox’s election campaign.

While this provision is a step in the right direction, professors still have the right to withhold the written comments submitted with their CTECs. Some students use the written section of CTECs to make personal attacks against their professors. These comments should not be published, but the power to censor inappropriate material should not rest exclusively in professors’ hands.

ASG and the CTEC Advisory Committee should continue to lobby for legislation to require professors to post written comments. CTECs are a valuable tool for students to determine what courses they take, for departments considering tenure and for professors to learn what changes should be made in their courses. It’s important they not be censored.