Instructors open ears to undergrad concerns

Last night the weekly meeting for Undergraduate Student Government was transformed into an informal, open discussion between students and faculty. They talked about academic honesty, student effort in classes, teaching strategies, and more topics of University academics.

Representatives from Faculty Senate and other faculty members visited the meeting to ask students questions and get feedback on issues like what students expect from their faculty and what the faculty should be expecting from University students. USG President Aaron Shumaker said this type of meeting would be the first of many between students and faculty in the future.

“Dialogue like this could lay the ground work for where the University is going,” he said.

The idea to have students and faculty engage in this type of dialogue was brought up by the Chair of Faculty Senate, Robert Boughton. At last night’s meeting by encouraging the members of USG to think about academic freedom – in other words, what students can and cannot say in the classroom. There is a bill in Congress, Bill 24, which addresses just that issue. Boughton said Faculty Senate is also trying to work on the issue.

“We at Faculty Senate are trying to improve communication between students and faculty,” he said.

The discussion went far beyond Senate Bill 24 – legislation that some educators worried could limit free academic conversation in classrooms – and led to over an hour and a half of discussion back and forth between students and faculty. Vice Chair of Faculty Senate, Rich Hebein brought up academic honesty. He said it is frustrating for the faculty when students are dishonest.

“What we do at a university is based on trust,” Hebein said.

USG senators gave suggestions on making the Academic Honesty Policy more uniform among different classes and brought up concerns that the process for prosecuting academic dishonesty was unfair to students.

Some other professors were also there to absorb student comments. Professor, Molly Laflin asked students if academic standards are going down. She brought up the University’s guideline for studying which is two hours of studying per each hour spent in class. Laflin wonders if students are spending less time studying than what is recommended, and what a lack of effort may do to the value of students’ education.

There was plenty of response to Laflin’s concerns from USG senators. Some thought professors should expect more from their students while some senators thought the teachers could be responsible for keeping students driven. Psychology professor, Milt Hakel talked about students evaluating teachers.

Student evaluations can have a very strong effect on the way that teachers run their classes. Last night’s opportunity to provide feedback on University issues was appreciated by the USG senators. Sen. Johnathon Byrd said the open discussion showed a very positive side of BGSU.

“I think it shows that both faculty and students care about their work here at the University,” he said.