USG introduces resolution on professor feedback forms

Former USG Senator Jacquelyne Tan proposed the resolution on the Senate floor during a meeting Tuesday.
(Ally Wei | Daily Trojan)

Former  Undergraduate Student Government Senator Jacquelyne Tan proposed a resolution at Tuesday’s USG Senate meeting to launch an online course evaluation platform that would be accessible within USC’s Web Registration. 

Tan, who presented the resolution on the Senate floor, spoke with the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Academic Senate and the Board of Trustees for Academic Affairs Committee to gain an understanding of the issue at hand prior to drafting the resolution. Initially passed under the previous senate last semester, the new resolution aims to provide a link to student evaluations of professors that can be included on USC’s course registration website, allowing for a more comprehensive review of all classes and professors.

According to Tan, the student-accessible platform would hopefully eliminate the need for students to rely on the popular peer feedback site RateMyProfessors, which Tan said provides an inaccurate review of classes.

“The premise of that platform was never to take professors into account,” Tan said. “It was made for students’ convenience. I kind of hate that just because it’s a two-way street, students should be respectful of professors regardless of how they experienced their class.” 

Tan also indicated that RateMyProfessors does not have a complete review of all courses and professors available at USC. 

The resolution referenced recent studies from Innovative Higher Education and St. John’s Law Review that revealed racial and gender bias is often evident in student evaluations of professors. These biases have been displayed on RateMyProfessors. Tan hoped that a platform moderated by USC would mediate the misrepresentation of teachers and hold students accountable. 

“For RateMyProfessors, it’s more likely that if somebody hates a class, they’ll write on it,” Tan said. “It’s just so skewed.” 

Sen. Christopher McMorran, who sponsored the resolution, agreed that the current system of peer review fails to provide a fair, comprehensive look at professors.

“It’s not really moderated, so some of the comments may be a little off color or might not really be the most constructive information you might need,” McMorran said. 

According to the resolution, USC recently changed the tenure and promotion review process to lean more heavily on student evaluations to reflect class engagement opposed to an assessment of ability. The resolution intends to help provide more accurate feedback to be used in this crucial review process.

Student-accessible platforms have been implemented at other universities such as Columbia, Yale, Stanford and UCLA to maintain more accurate reviews of professors. The Gould School of Law also currently provides a course evaluation of professors available to students.

The resolution, if passed, will be presented to USG President Trenton Stone, who will sign it and then deliver it to various members of the administration for assessment and future implementation.

This article was updated for clarity on 9/18.