Students raise concerns about UVM

The list of questions seemed endless as students gathered to express their concerns about the University at SGA’s Town Meeting Day on March 2.Students were particularly concerned about faculty evaluations and overcrowded classrooms.SGA is strongly pushing  to make faculty evaluations visible to students, SGA President Bryce Jones said.Instead of popular websites like RateMyProfessors.com, where students go to research professors’ popularity, Jones and the SGA committee want students to be able to see how faculty are performing through the University’s resources.”SGA is still facing hesitation on this particular matter,” he said.SGA senator Jeremiah Church said there has also been an increasing growth in class sizes.”The student to faculty ratio has gone from 13-1 in 2001 to 17-1 in 2009,” he said.Even though senior nursing student Kate Rooney said she generally has the same class sizes every year, she feels that shrinking the size of classes is important issue to address.”We’re paying so much money to go here, and having smaller classes can allow us to get more attention in the classroom and therefore get a more quality educational experience all around,” she said.SGA is also trying to push the administration to have a more inclusive process for the budget, Jones said.”We’re keeping Richard Cate, Vice President of Finance and Administration, close in the budget updates,” he said.The Board of Trustees has asked the administration to look further into the financial model and address the fact that it’s broken, Jones said.”We’re hopeful that administration will look into different avenues for funding,” he said. Although the University has encountered some struggles, Jones said that the close relationship that SGA has been maintaining with the Board of Trustees has allowed them to see success toward establishing new goals.Church said he is unsure of the University’s goal to become more research-based.”How does research affect undergraduate education, and is that the goal we want?” he said.Expenditures on research and growth in the Masters and doctoral programs have been a key element in growing UVM’s reputation and perceived value, according to a 2004 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.”Undergraduates need instruction and graduates need research, or at least that’s the traditional breakdown, and professors only have so much time and skill,” Church said. “So there’s a competition for professors — grads want more research professors, undergrads want professors who know how to teach and inspire.”