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College Orders the Destruction of Student Faculty Evaluations

May 26, 1988|ESTHER SCHRADER | Times Staff Writer

Glendale Community College President John Davitt last week ordered the director of an office serving low-income and minority students to destroy more than 250 student-written faculty evaluations after two teachers complained about the practice.

Chemistry professor Ray Glienna and math professor Peter Witt filed grievances with the college after discovering uncomplimentary reports about them written by students and kept in open files at the college's Extended Opportunity Programs and Services office.

The office's director, Ray Reyes, has encouraged students to fill out such evaluations for 10 years. But college officials said they were unaware of the practice, and last week Davitt ordered it stopped.

'Nobody Knew About It'

"One department was putting these out without the knowledge of the faculty," Davitt said. "Nobody knew about it. That's one of the reasons I stopped it."

At the same time, Davitt said, the two grievances were denied. The professors had contended that because the evaluations received the support of a campus administrator, they violated the terms of the contract with the teachers' union, the Glendale College Guild.

But Davitt wrote in a letter to Glienna that because Reyes had acted "independently and totally without district support or direction," the district is not responsible for his actions in developing the evaluation system.

The student-written evaluations are voluntary and include questions about faculty members' sensitivity to minorities and their teaching styles. They were compiled to help students find teachers they like, Reyes said. About 2,000 students at the 12,000-student school use the state and federally funded Extended Opportunity Programs and Services, which is geared toward helping disadvantaged students.

"Over the course of 10 years, we have never used them to either criticize an instructor or tell their division chair," Reyes said. "If we wanted to use it as a headhunting tool, we could have, but our intention was to help the students, to have the students helping their colleagues."

'I Didn't Like the Idea'

But Glienna said they were unbalanced and unfair.

"I didn't like the idea of them being kept," Glienna said. "One student over the last 12 years thought me unsympathetic to minorities, and that's the evaluation that got put in the file. I don't think that's right."

Davitt said he would support a campuswide system of student evaluations sponsored by a student group, but could not support an open evaluation system by a college department.

Glendale Community College, like most colleges, does compile confidential faculty evaluations that are used in hiring and promotion decisions.

But those evaluations, a combination of peer reviews and reports of classroom visits made by an evaluation committee, are not open to public scrutiny.

In 1971, the college's associated student body planned to institute an evaluation system, but gave up the idea because it was too demanding a task, Davitt said.

No student organization has considered the idea since then, he said.

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