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Ammerman SGA Passes Professor Course Evaluation Resolution

With several approvals still necessary, rollout timetable still uncertain
Connor Yee Kee
Student Government Association President Ethan Rothburd at his desk in the SGA office on March 13, 2024. (Compass News/Connor Yee Kee)

The Ammerman Campus Student Government Association unanimously passed a resolution to implement professor course evaluations in a 25-0 vote on March 12.  

The course evaluation “is a response to a set of questions on a paper or electronic questionnaire used to assess the quality of education for specific courses,” according to the resolution directed to the Suffolk Board of Trustees by the SGA Senates of the Ammerman, Grant and Eastern campuses.

The evaluations aim to collect information about what students liked and disliked most about their classes with the goal of improving the educational experience for future students, said Nick Rizzitello, a chair of the course evaluation committee.  

The resolution, which still needs to go through sister SGA and administrative approvals, seeks to have course evaluations be distributed online and implemented within the 2024-2025 academic year. Professors will be able to access the survey results.

Twenty-two out of 30 senators and three e-board members were present for the meeting. 

The SGAs created a 15-question course evaluation survey modeled after other SUNY colleges such as Stony Brook University, Mohawk Valley Community College, and Monroe Community College’s course evaluation.  

“SCCC students often purchase required materials that are neither effective nor used throughout the course,” said the resolution.  

“SGA has been advocating for this for years, nearly a decade,” said SGA Ammerman President Ethan Rothburd. “I believe over the past year or so, it kind of picked up some momentum.” He said President Edward Bonahue, who started in 2021, decided to approve it and launched an initiative for the college to create a universal course evaluation.  

SUNY Suffolk has unsuccessfully attempted paper course evaluations in the past. Rothburd says that mounting SGA pressure has contributed to the change. 

“I would also contribute it to just the comparable schools, how it was becoming more and more commonplace,” Rothburd said. “As Suffolk, we were kind of an outlier. If you look at the data of us not having course evaluations, a universal set of them.” While more than half of SUNY institutions have course evaluations distributed across campuses, SUNY Suffolk is currently not one of them.  

“I think also having a new president, President Bonahue, I think this is something he was either passionate about or just thought that it was time for our college to join most of the other colleges in New York State,” Rothburd said.  

The SGA senates in the Grant and Eastern campuses still need to pass the sister resolutions, though all three SGAs agree with the proposed questions in the survey. If the resolution passes in those senates, it will then be sent to the Vice President of Student Affairs Patty Munsch for review. 

“She’ll give us some comments and suggestions, if there’s any,” said Rothburd. “We can decide to take those comments and suggestions or not.” Afterwards, the resolution will be submitted to President Edward Bonahue sometime in March, per Rothburd.  

Rothburd said the SGA presented a rough draft of its questions for the evaluations to Faculty Association leaders. “They have a very strong pull. Obviously, this being a faculty issue, they also have very strong weight when it comes to this conversation, so they might be submitting their own questions,” Rothburd said.   

FA President Dante Morelli said he was “happy to meet with student government leadership to discuss this matter. We will be continuing to talk to the college administration about course evaluations.” He said he thought the drafts for the questions “were thoughtful” and said the SGA “really put a lot of thought into it and they shared that with us which we really appreciated… I thought they were good questions.” 

However, Morelli pointed out some concerns. “Faculty who are women and faculty of color have not fared well on these in the past” in professor evaluations. “There’s a lot of research to support the fact that there is bias,” Morelli said. 

“Typically when these instruments are filled out by students. They have found that there are some distinct differences in scores and responses compared to faculty of color and women … compared to their white male counterparts,” Morelli explained.

Rothburd said he doesn’t see the union stalling the initiative, “but the content of the questions might be different depending on their demands, and also the president’s recommendations as well.”

It was my hope that this would be implemented next year or as soon as possible.

— Ethan Rothburd

It is currently unclear what the timetable is for the rollout of evaluation forms. “That is one thing I’m not sure about. He said he sent an email to vice president of student affairs, Patty Munsch, about the rollout timetable. She said she was not sure,” Rothburd said. “She said they’re currently still doing research.”  

“It was my hope that this would be implemented next year or as soon as possible,” Rothburg said.  

Rothburd acknowledged the efforts of the SGA course evaluation committee, led by Nick Rizzitello and David Gomez. “They worked incredibly hard this semester and provided excellent leadership to their committee on how to do proper research for this … all in an effort to create this 15-question questionnaire.”

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Connor Yee Kee
Connor Yee Kee, Managing Editor
Connor Yee Kee is a freshman journalism major at SUNY Suffolk. He is the managing editor of Compass News.

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