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The Columbia Chronicle

Faculty raise concerns about use of student course evaluations during strike

Two part time faculty members stand outside of 916 S. Wabash Ave. in support of the CFAC strike on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023. (Addison Annis)

Faculty are concerned about how the college is going to handle student course evaluations this semester because of the strike.

At a Faculty Senate meeting on Friday, Dec. 8, several faculty members said it would not be fair for the college to use the feedback given the disruption of the semester.

Student evaluations are part of a faculty member’s annual review process and are used for promotion and course assignments. Students evaluate both part-time and full-time faculty.

Faculty Senate President Madhurima Chakraborty said senate leaders have raised the issue of student course evaluations with the provost’s office.

The process for collecting evaluations cannot be changed at this point, because students have already started to fill them out, but faculty will be able to include an “impact statement” as part of their annual review, Chakraborty said. The college allowed faculty to include a similar statement after the Spring 2020 semester, which was disrupted by COVID-19.

“This will be a really challenging semester for us to be held to student evaluation when it has been a mess for five to six weeks,” Chakraborty told senators.

In response to an inquiry from the Chronicle, Senior Associate Provost Nate Bakkum said student course evaluations reflect the faculty member assigned to the course at the start of the term.

“Striking instructors were not removed from the surveys, and reassigned instructors were not added,” Bakkum said in an email, adding that 10 of the survey questions are about the instructor.

“Students should focus their responses on their experience with the instructor who began the term,” he said. “The other five questions provide an opportunity to address the course as a whole.”

He added that the college does not tolerate harassment of any kind, “including as part of student evaluations of teaching.”

Senior graphic design major Kaia Morrison-Burks said she will not do course evaluations for part-time faculty because she believes she would not be able to fairly judge a class without having the full instruction time. 

 “We didn’t even know if it was for the part-time faculty or the full-time faculty that were reassigned to the classes,” Morrison-Burks said. “It definitely has been a little bit confusing. So I won’t be doing them for my part-time faculty courses because I don’t know how to assess those in an accurate way.” 

For other students, like Sofia Forero, a senior photography major, eight weeks was enough to properly evaluate her teachers. 

“I will be doing the course evaluations because we had eight weeks of classes with them,” Forero said. “Nothing should have changed, but because of the strike, we are in the middle of this. I had two part-time faculty members and both of them were great, so I’m going to give them a good review.”

Senior Tim Davis, a double major in communications and television, has one part-time teacher who is on strike. Comparing the two, he has felt that the full-time substitute has been more “informative.” 

“I’m going to evaluate that situation with the combination of the two,” Davis said. “Really, it’s just me looking at the experience, because at the end of the day, that’s what matters more.”

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About the Contributors
Lily Thomas, Copy Editor
lthomas@columbiachronicle.com   Lily Thomas is a sophomore journalism major, minoring in graphic design. Thomas has reported on Columbia's counseling services, sexual health and campus events. She joined the Chronicle in January 2023.   Hometown: Fishers, Indiana
Vivian Richey, Assistant Campus Editor
vrichey@columbiachronicle.com   Vivian Richey is a sophomore journalism major, who reports on the college's Faculty Senate, Columbia's COVID-19 protocols and campus art exhibitions. She joined the Chronicle in January 2023.   Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Olivia Cohen, Editor-in-Chief
ocohen@columbiachronicle.com   Olivia Cohen is a senior journalism major, minoring in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She primarily reports on Columbia's financial health and administration and unions, but has also written about personnel and department changes, COVID-19 policies and abortion. She joined the Chronicle in August 2021.   Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Addison Annis, Photojournalist
aannis@columbiachronicle.com   Addison Annis is a junior photojournalism major, minoring in video production. She has covered politics, cultural events and Chicago protests. Annis joined the Chronicle in August 2022.   Hometown: Plymouth, Minn.