When I first heard about the Technology Fee Committee last semester, I was excited to join. As a freshman, it would be my first real opportunity to actively contribute to the college and potentially have an impact. Also, I was interested to know if the technology fees that each and every student pays (included in your student fees) were being allocated in the most efficient way. At the last meeting, we were informed that students who filled out teacher evaluation forms would no longer get $15 for printing. Why? Queens College is in major debt and needed to cut corners somewhere. Although I was visibly irate (which some professors at the meeting thought was humorous because the anger matched the redhead “fiery temper” stereotype), I attempted to calmly and logically explain why this is a terrible idea.
I first explained that the number of students who would fill out the evaluations would plummet. Money, I said, is the ultimate incentive when it comes to human behavior. Students who needed money to print multiple ten-page essays (like myself) would fill out the forms in order to get the money to print. By taking away the $15 incentive, most students would suddenly have no motivation to complete it. Ultimately, significantly less people would fill it out.
When I raised this issue, an administrator responded that he did not think such a precipitous drop would result. He explained that Baruch College does not provide $15 for printing when a student fills out the evaluation, and yet students still complete it. I immediately, but politely, rejected his notion on psychological-not even on economic-grounds. Taking away a reward that people have become accustomed to getting will result in far greater consequences should the reward be taken away, than if nothing were to have been offered from the beginning. Baruch students are accustomed to filling out evaluations with no expectation for anything in return. On a tangential note, I genuinely don’t understand this. Baruch is considered the business CUNY. How are none of their students asking “What’s in it for me, financially?” Queens College students, on the other hand, will feel the sting of a reward being snatched from them.
The administrator then claimed that students should be filling them out solely out of a civic duty to their college. He also proceeded to ask if we voted in the elections, and that filling out the evaluations are essentially the same thing. At this point I almost wanted to laugh. He was referencing the fact that evaluations are considered when determining tenure for professors. While this is technically true, evaluations in fact play an infinitesimal role in the process. Furthermore, I found it insulting that he had also equated my democratic right of voting for a leader in the free world with my evaluation of “strongly disagree” to the question of “professor returns assignments in timely fashion”. Granted, I understand that he was talking about student apathy and did not intent to be offensive. Nonetheless, the fact of the matter is that students look out for their best interests, and not the financial best interests of Queens College.
However, he also did not take into account the often-apathetic nature of students. Money functions as a more powerful motivator than does civic responsibility. I am not denying the fact that people will still fill them out. However, a fellow student member of the committee made an accurate analysis of the situation at hand. The apathetic people will stop filling them out. However, students who either abhor a professor or are enamored by their professor will be the ones filling out the evaluations. The results of the evaluations will come out extremely skewed, with opinions at opposite extremes. To have a helpful evaluation system, it is necessary for people in the middle to also contribute. Considering the fact that the Technology Fee Committee just approved of a move to spend money to improve the teacher evaluation system, I think we should ensure that the information posted on this system is also accurate.
I did not write this post to bash the Technology Fee Committee. As a member, I have learned a lot about the internal workings of Queens College as well as its budgets allocations. However, I was angered by this revelation, and I thought it is important for students to be aware of it. I asked of the administrative members that, at the very least, the remaining balance for printing not be removed at the end of the spring semester if indeed it will not be replenished. Unfortunately, I highly doubt that they will heed my request. It used to be more financially worthwhile to print at Queens College by swiping my card. Now, however, I think I just might start printing at home or, if that becomes too much of a hassle, invest in a printer (which, to cover my costs, I would sell upon graduation to another student who would be in a similar predicament).