The end of the school semester means Hell. It means staying up all night in order to get enough adequate studying time for the final exam you have the next day. It means the university is strict and will push you away because the semester is almost over and no one wants to bother with anything. It means that Vivarin experiences a boost in sales, as does Starbuck's. It means everyone is more irritable on the street and in the UT newsgroups. Chaos.
The end of the semester also means it's time for the teacher evaluation forms to be passed out. This is a required process for every class, as the university uses these evalutions (supposedly) to see how good professors are and whether they deserve a raise or promotion. Now, I have access to the teacher evaluations online, which makes scheduling classes better, as I can see if a teacher is generally liked or not. I unfortunately do not know if the individual departments look at the evaluation forms to consider enrollment for the next year.
But all of this works on the premise that the whole student body of each class completes the teacher evaluation forms to give a fair representation of the general opinion of the class. And students aren't fulfilling that assumption.
Okay, so I'm sitting in my accounting class and the evaluation forms are passed out. Everywhere I look, students are taking the pile of scantrons and passing them along without taking one themselves. I will note that the people who usually do this are the fraternity/sorority types of people who wear jeans and UT football advocate t-shirts every single day, regardless of the weather. You know. These are the folks who stay up late at night not studying for medical terminology class, but instead thumb the button on the top of a spray paint can while they think about how to deface some form of property at Texas A&M University.
I'm always one of the last people to finish their teacher evaluation forms. Thankfully, I admit most of the forms I've done have been glowing, constructive, and positive because the professors I've had at UT Austin have all been amazing teachers. An exception would be my Medieval history teacher. Rocks have better communication skills. But, anyway... I pay a lot of money in order to go to school. Less than I would at other universities, but still a lot. If the university gives me a chance to voice my opinion about a class I'm taking, I'll ride that chance.
I'm not one of those people who preach that one should be active in the community, though. Hell no. I'm one of the laziest people in America and how I get away with it is my ability to make up excuses which justify my laziness. The only thing that's holding me back is my conscience, which makes me admit when I'm doing the wrong thing. Damn it.
But my education is one thing I take very seriously and so on a teacher evaluation form, I'll describe what I thought of the professor, how well he knew the subject, and how helpful he was to his students. I also make suggestions on which parts of the class to excise and which areas may be interesting additions. I get weird looks from other students when they look up from their empty forms and see mine, full with writing.
Not only does participating in these forms give me a chance to exercise my right to have an opinion, but it also helps the professors. They get all the forms about one third of the way into the next semester, to avoid accusations of grade-fixing by the professor if he reads a bad evaluation and identifies the author of it. But most professors are professors because they love teaching (I'd hope so, anyway), so they want criticism on their jobs to make them better. They want to know what students like and what they don't, something which may not be clear while a student is expected to be learning the stuff. For instance, in my gothic writing course, the teacher was teaching the class for the first time and he needed to know which stories we read which were helpful to us and which ones were completely useless. We had a chance to voice our thoughts in our evaluations. So next semester will make for a much more organized and thorough course.
So if evaluations are so universally helpful to take part in and use, why don't students participate? I could say it's because they don't believe the university listens and they think the university is out to screw them and get their money. I could say students don't want their professors to know what they said about them. But that's not what it is.
These students suffer from mindless apathy. They move through life dead, dumb, and blind. They are incapable of seeing anything meaningful. They walk around the university and ogle students of the opposite sex and quickly imagine ways to get that person into bed. They go out on weekends for the specific purpose of getting drunk and finding someone who wants to fuck as badly as they do. Fornication and intoxication, my friends.
These mindless students think it's cool to not participate, to be one of the few bold enough not to follow the mainstream. They only want to know what helps them. "Will this be on the test?" is a question only these sorts of people would ask.
They stand in the middle of the sidewalk in a busy pedestrian intersection and do all the stupid things lab procedures tell you not to do. They sue for spilling hot coffee on their genitals and sue suntan lotion companies for getting a sunburn.
I would understand if someone was just too lazy to go out to vote. Being lazy is understandable in a country which allows for people to relax and not worry about their rights and lives twenty-four hours a day. But how can you be lazy when you're stuck in class anyway? You're not going anywhere, so why would you have something better to do?
I must admit that it's better that these people don't give their opinions on the matters they're allowed to vote in. They wouldn't know any better. They haven't done their research or don't know what's important in life, so their votes would be based on all the wrong reasons. But still, it amazes me that these people work their ways through life and actually end up in comfortable jobs and homes. Baffling!
In an ideal world, trust would be enough. Assuming others will complete something that's important to you would be okay. All the laws, rules, and restrictions that we have now wouldn't be necessary. Teacher evaluation forms would actually be useful to those who need them.
But this isn't an ideal world and perhaps the most important thing is not to make a good product but to know how to sell that product to the idiots of the world who somehow made sufficient disposable income.
So maybe students don't have much to contribute and maybe these evaluations don't work at all. There's lots of things which may make this process invalid and a waste of time. But we as the students giving the critiques must fulfill our obligations in hopes that the end-users are doing/will do their part. Even if our representation is slighted, we're only hurting the whole system by not contributing to it in the way we've been assigned.
Thank God classes are over. I don't have to deal with students for awhile. I can relax, sleep a lot, and go see my beautiful girlfriend in Stockholm.
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