Ryerson University will turn 15 this year. How perfect.
What better personification for Ryerson than a post-pubescent young adult groping his way toward maturity?
Ryerson baby, you’re still just a kid. This week, the Eyeopener takes a close look at the school’s course evaluations, which remained unchanged and unpublished for two decades despite a general consensus that they were crappy and useless to students.
I would like to use this space to commend the school for two new initiatives — vastly improving the survey format, and publishing a limited version of the results online — but I won’t do that.
I can’t, because the survey results as currently published are, at best, statistically meaningless.
At worst, they are a lame attempt by the school’s administration and faculty to contrive radically favourable student opinions about the school’s courses and teachers.
Let me tell you what the big kids are up to.
McGill, UBC, Western, York, Calgary, as well as all three campuses at the University of Toronto already conduct course surveys online, with space offered for student commentary.
And here’s the kicker: all of those schools have succeeded in or are currently in the process of publishing results for individual classes and teachers, allowing tuition-paying students to make informed decisions about which classes to take.
At U of T, the administration actually covers the cost of processing the surveys and printing 9,000 paper copies of the annual “anti-calendar” produced by the Arts and Sciences Students’ Society.
The Scarborough and Mississauga campus unions have gone a step further by publishing a searchable database of course survey results online.
In comparison, Ryerson’s policy appears, well, juvenile.
Missing from the current policy are grown-up academic values like access, accountability and free exchange of information.
And no one escapes blame here, including students, the administration, the RSU and least of all our faculty, which comes off looking quintessentially adolescent, racked with self-doubt and distrust of students.
For some reason, the faculty association and administration enjoy exclusive control over the school’s course survey policy.
When they revised the policy this year, they did so with zero student input, and gave no reason for their decision to disallow fuller disclosure.
Beneath Ryerson’s stylish yellow-and-blue golf shirt, it must be remembered, are little effeminate pecs and barely a wisp of chest hair.