According to a recent post on the subreddit r/UCSantaBarbara, a well-connected faculty member has exposed that the UCSB school board plans to hide professor’s names on the Gaucho On-Line Data (GOLD) website when students are registering for classes, preventing them from selecting classes based on professor.
The policy is designed to deter students from using websites like RateMyProfessor to help them choose their classes, making some professors more attractive than others. Although this proposal has not yet been enacted, it could allegedly go into effect sometime in the next academic year.
The post has stimulated discontent and debate, as students worry that if they can’t choose between professors, there might be less incentive for professors to meet student needs and improve as educators.
Many students insist that choosing their professors is a basic right, and many also blame the University for its excessive focus on research development as opposed to students’ well-being.
Research is one of UCSB’s top priorities, and the belief that education should be centered around research can discourage students and faculty from focusing on teaching and education.
An anonymous faculty member in the Mathematics department revealed that “professors can be divided into teaching and researching faculties.”
“For researching professors, there is no actual punishment for receiving a low grade on the final course review. For the most part, the department will just talk to them, but as long as their research goes well, nothing will really happen.”
While research is very important, it is even more important that professors who conduct research still prioritize their students and overall course quality.
This issue also presents another administrative problem: unpredictable swells in class enrollment. Students often give each other advice like, “don’t take class with X, wait till Y teaches it in the spring,” which can cause fluctuations in class enrollment of each quarter.
For now, whether the policy will be implemented or not remains unknown. However, this proposal reflects a key issue that should be addressed: an effective platform is needed for students to report unsatisfactory teaching quality, and for relevant departments to intervene in these situations.
Without cooperative efforts from the University, the ability to choose professors is the last defense that students have against tenured professors who prioritize their research and disregard their evaluations.