The end of every semester is filled with stress, library overflow and professors urging students to complete online SOOT surveys, but as of right now, that’s the last time most students see the surveys.
But this is something Daniel Rabinowitz, vice president for academic affairs of the Student Association, is looking to change.
As of now, the surveys are sent to the Office of Institutional Research where they are analyzed, and professors can then see them upon individual request. Rabinowitz is calling for the surveys to be released to students as well.
Rabinowitz filed a request to the New York State Committee for Open Government under the Freedom of Information Law in an attempt to possess the surveys and make them public information.
“The Freedom of Information Law states that the surveys are legally ours [the students’] and the state is required to give them to us,” Rabinowitz said.
Because of this effort, Rabinowitz has now received surveys on 100 professors and is working with the SOOT Survey Task Force to obtain the rest. According to task force members, the current hold-up is coming from hesitations within the Faculty Senate.
“The faculty feels it is their information,” Rabinowitz said. “They look at it as their personal report card and ask how the students would feel if their report cards were out there for everyone to see.”
But Rabinowitz said the ultimate goal is not to show the professors in a negative light. He hopes that students will take the surveys more seriously and give more accurate responses if they are able to see the results of their participation.
Ben Fordham, the chair of political science department and a task force member, is hoping that the release of the surveys will not only improve the quality of information, but increase response rates as well.
“Response rates now are terribly low. [The survey] doesn’t give a good idea of the general opinion of the group,” Fordham said. “What you want is a good sense of what everybody thought and not just what the extremists felt about it.”
According to Fordham, professors who are coming up for tenure are worried that the surveys will impact the decision negatively. He makes the point, however, that the surveys will still be used in decisions of tenure promotion regardless of whether or not they are released to students.
The task force is currently awaiting the data that Sean McKitrick, vice provost in charge of the Office of Institutional Research, has been researching to determine other schools’ practices when it comes to the surveys.
“The goal of the data is to find out exactly what it is that schools are doing,” Fordham said. “Not just to find out whether they released them to students, but also the practices of other institutions: who administers the surveys, what is in their surveys, etc.”
The task force will have its next meeting on Friday. Rabinowitz hopes the viewing of this data will convince the Faculty Senate to push the release forward.
Once all of the surveys are released to Rabinowitz, a Web site will be created so the information is available for easy viewing.
He hopes to have the Web site up and running by the next registration period.