The Op-Ed published in last week’s Wall Street Journal bemoaned the recent addition of diversity and inclusion questions to the end of semester teacher course and evaluation survey (CATS) and sparked a fervent debate among University community members. Regardless of this current debate over if these particular questions should be included, we, as student editors, are calling for increased clarity from the University over what the CATS are meant to accomplish as a whole and how the feedback students provide is implemented or not implemented. We as students, simply want answers as to the purpose of the stressed survey.
Currently, there is virtually no transparency as to how the CATS system works. We, as students, are given little to no information about who the CATS surveys go to after we complete them and what actions are taken in cases where the majority of students in a particular course indicate shared sentiments about how the course or professor operates. The importance of completing the CATS is constantly stressed to students via repeated email reminders and designated class time for completing the surveys at the end of the semester. However, the intended purpose of the CATS is extremely vague. The lack of transparency over how or if the surveys are used by the professors, departments or the University as a whole creates a common sentiment among students that the CATS don’t affect real change, regardless of which questions are asked or which answers are given.
If the University values students’ opinions and hopes to continue to improve the quality of education and of the student experience as a whole, there should be increased clarity about the CATS process and the power that student feedback does or doesn’t have in affecting change. We call on the University to more openly share information about who reads the surveys and what actions are taken.