So we have a pretty big election that is about to take place on our campus. Starting Monday, our students will be voting on new ASI officers, but also on increasing the student fee by $150/semester to help fund a new student center. The building would be a wonderful addition to our campus, but carries with it a potential financial burden to students. It has been highly debated throughout the campus in different arenas, including classrooms. My office is responsible for the elections process therefore we have been neutral in the discussions and pushed the importance of students educating themselves on the issue by listening to both the pro and the con side. It has been difficult for my student assistants who would be directly impacted by the construction of a new student center, and they have done a great job in helping to educate other students about the facts and taking neither a pro or con stance.
I wish I could say the same thing about our faculty. There are many who have brought the discussion into their classrooms, but have also outwardly displayed their point of view on the issue. I wonder if they are oblivious to the power dynamic they have or just do not care that their opinions can carry a dramatic amount of weight with students. I thought the point of higher education was to help students see situations from all angles and not spout one-sided rhetoric because of a personal position. I am just confused that those faculty members who are masking their personal positions behind “student issues” feel that it is okay to rant and rave about a building that they have absolutely no say in. It is up to the students to determine whether they want to increase their student fee, and they should not be influenced by matters that have no impact on the fee. Do we need more classes? Yes we do. But we are also talking about two separate pots of money and never shall the two mix. If more classes and lecturers are the issues at hand, then it needs to be taken up with the Chancellor’s office and/or the state because that is where those allocations come from.
I guess what really gets me going about this topic is a recent survey that was conducted by students and endorsed by a faculty member. The results of the survey were sent out to a undisclosed list of people via email. I glanced over the information and was instantly appalled. I am not an expert when it comes to assessment and research methodology, but there were so many problems with the presented information. The questions asked in the survey were extremely leading. There was no evidence of statistical analysis with the collected data, and broad generalizations were made. Since when is 54% close to 67%? Not anywhere that I know. Even the referenced percentages to try and provide relevance to the larger student population were incorrect and did not match what our Institutional Research office submits to the Chancellor’s office and is publicly available on its website.
I am just blown away that a professor, because of his own agenda, would not critically challenge the information presented by his students. Then on top of that have the audacity to blindly send it out to a unknown list of people. Where are the other faculty members questioning this information? I find it completely ridiculous that none of them would have the courage to say that the results were intentionally skewed to support the initial views of the researchers. The document was poorly constructed and the irrelevant information provided will unfortunately not be met with a critical eye and therefore will be seen as fact. I am tempted to purchase a copy of “Damned Lies and Statistics” by Joel Best and send it to this professor. I can only imagine what else the students may be incorrectly learning about assessment.
Until next time…