USG unanimously passes course evaluation resolution

USG Senators voted Tuesday to pass last week’s resolution that would make course evaluations more accessible to students.
(Karla Leung | Daily Trojan)

Senators unanimously passed a resolution to publish course evaluations on a student-accessible platform at an Undergraduate Student Government meeting Tuesday. 

The resolution, co-authored by former Senators Jacquelyne Tan and Matthew Crane and former Senate Aide Divya Gupta, calls for a more comprehensive review of classes and professors to be available to students.

USG President Trenton Stone emphasized the importance of a well-informed, student-accessible platform for course evaluation.

“As of now, students are making their class decisions and who to take a class from based on things like RateMyProfessor and old PowerPoints or syllabi that they find,” Stone said. “It’s a pretty basic thing to be able to allow students to make the most informed decision about what classes they are signing up for and making course evaluations more accessible to students.” 

Stone expressed concern about students’ current reliance on peer feedback site RateMyProfessor and supported the resolution’s focus on a more reliable platform.

“I think RateMyProfessor is kind of almost like using Wikipedia for a research project … People use RateMyProfessors because there is just not a better solution to get accurate, detailed information about classes and professors,” he said. 

During the meeting, senators passed amendments to the resolution, adding incoming Provost Charles Zukoski, Information Technology Services Senior Project Manager Nishu Emde and Director of the Office of Institutional Research Ray Gonzalez to the list of administrators who will receive the resolution. 

Stone said he hopes USG can work to improve professor evaluations.

“We are working on what is called the student services initiative and they’re doing a whole overhaul of web registration, of the financial aid portal and many other platforms,” Stone said. “When you’re registering for a course, you can look at the syllabus, you can look at the professor’s evaluation, you can look at so much more information than just the 25-word sentence that gives you the course description.”

Following the passage of the resolution, Sen. Hailey Robertson spoke about her work on a new initiative with the mobile therapy company Talkspace. She developed an anonymous survey with USG Director of Accessibility Affairs Gwen Howard to gather data about how students perceive the University’s mental health services and the potential willingness of students to use Talkspace services.

“If we can [hope to] get more student perspectives on what their needs are before just hopping in and saying this is the solution to mental health care,” Robertson said. “We figured that a survey would help us reach as many students as possible.” 

Robertson said she is currently speaking with representatives from Talkspace, who have partnered with other universities like Williams College to provide mental health care services to employees and students.

“Our goal for the initiative is to, ultimately partner with Talk Space to have a subscription paid for all students who wish to use Talk Space,” she said. “Currently, it’s a pretty expensive service … We hope to have it free for all students.”