A letter to the dean: the early publication of syllabi

Preamble Last year, the Student Academic Affairs Committee set some goals for itself. One of those was to try and make course syllabi accessible to students prior to registration. As students ourselves, we know how valuable any additional information about courses can be when making registration decisions. We weren¶t as successful as we hoped we would be, but a few months ago, the federal government helped us out a bit. They passed the ³Higher Education Opportunity Act,´ which requires universities to list the textbooks a given course will require on their course registration website. Unfortunately, the law does not require that other information students consider crucial, like lecture style, grading rubric, or course objectives, be similarly listed. Additionally, upon scanning the course schedule site before registration, we found that many professors had not complied even with the minimum federal requirement. In an effort to address this issue, the Student Academic Affairs Committee penned this letter to Dean Eichler, outlining the difficulty students face, and requesting his aid in solving the problem: Letter Dear Dean Eichler, As the new semester rapidly approaches, students will shortly begin the lengthy, winding, and often stressful process of registering for their classes. We understand that many of the issues we will face, like getting locked out of a class, are simply par for the course. However, we know that you, and the rest of the administration and faculty of Yeshiva University are constantly aiming to make the registration experience as student

friendly as possible. To that end, we were hoping you could help us on one simple but essential issue regarding registration: the early release of course syllabi. Currently, the aspect of class registration that students find most frustrating is the actual choosing of courses. Due to the lack of information regarding some of these courses, the process of discerning which classes best suit a given student¶s interests and learning style, has come to seem like a biannual exercise in divination, rather than in deduction. The syllabi provided at the beginning of every semester are valuable, but if disseminated prior to registration, their value to students would increase dramatically. They will provide students with important information regarding course goals, a professor¶s lecture style, and subject matter, making registration a more informed, and hopefully calmer, process. Recently, the federal government passed a law requiring universities to publicize textbook information to students prior to registration. We are grateful for this law, as it will hopefully eliminate the other major stress of each new semester, the mad rush to purchase textbooks. However, we humbly request that in addition to required texts, professors also post at least a ³proto-syllabus´ of sorts, containing information pertaining to Hourse objectives, lecture style, and possibly grading guidelines. Ironically, many departments already publish this information in leaflets they distribute around campus. If those course descriptions could be uploaded to the MyYU course schedule, it would be a tremendous help to the student body, and we would be most appreciative. To facilitate this process, the Student Academic Affair Committee was provided with a simple ³how-to´ generated by Academic Computing, showing professors how to upload their syllabi. We have enclosed that document. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and to hear our request. Sincerely, The Student Academic Affairs Committee on behalf of the YC student body.

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