Student Bill of Rights in Wisconsin State University System?
Democratic Representative Marlin D. Schneider of the 72nd Assembly District has introduced Assembly Bill 578, a “Student Bill of Rights” that would strictly regulate the way professors treat students in Wisconsin’s public (but not private) colleges.
According to the official legislative summary:
This bill requires the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin (UW)System to guarantee certain rights to students and to regulate the academic conductof instructors. Specifically, the bill does the following:
- Requires an instructor to approve or deny a request to add a course within five days of the request.
- Requires an instructor teaching a class with only one examination to provide a week of study time before the examination.
- Requires the suspension of all parking rules for the week preceding and following each semester.
- Requires grades to be submitted no later than ten days after the final examination for the course.
- Prohibits an instructor from requiring students to purchase or use a text the instructor has authored for the course without obtaining the approval of the student government.
- Requires the chancellor to revoke tenure of a faculty member or deduct six months’ pay for an untenured instructor whose academic advising causes a student to be enrolled at least one semester more than he or she otherwise would have been enrolled.
- Prohibits an instructor from requiring students to complete a course evaluation until after the final examination is given.
- Requires, by no later than the 2012 academic year, audio or video recordings of all lectures and course sessions to be made available to students for downloading from the Internet.
- Requires an instructor who adopts a policy of reducing the grades of a student due to illness resulting in absenteeism to state that policy in writing and permits a student to appeal any decision based on that policy to the appropriate academic dean.
- Requires an instructor to excuse the absence of a student whose family member, fiance, or fiancee dies or becomes extremely ill and to allow a student to take any examination missed because of the funeral of a family member, fiance, or fiancee.
- Requires an instructor to meet with a parent or guardian who requests to speak with the instructor concerning the academic performance of his or her child no later than one week after the request, unless mutually agreed to otherwise, if the child grants written permission.
- The bill also limits the work day of a medical intern to 16 hours and prohibits the Board of Regents from entering into a contract that grants naming rights to a UW arena, playing field, or stadium.
The thrust, basically, is that professors aren’t allowed to be complete jerks.
Grades have to be submitted within 10 days of the exam? We’ve had to submit grades within three or four days of the exam, and while we are notorious for getting grades in late, “late” is defined as 23 hours or so late.
And we can’t imagine a Marquette professor docking a student’s grade because he was out sick (and had a doctor’s excuse) nor forbidding a student to make up work missed because of the funeral of a loved one. As for a professor giving a student bad advice: the University doesn’t fully trust faculty on this score, and the Arts & Sciences College reviews student transcripts to see that the student is on track to graduate.
Another theme here is that students are allowed to be lazy slobs. Can’t students take a “week of study” time and go to class too? And why shouldn’t they have to obey parking rules around final exam time? Finally, can’t they get out of the dorm and go to class, rather than expect to get lectures and discussions delivered to their rooms via the Internet?
Given the tendency of liberal professors to want to outlaw everything they don’t like, and mandate everything they think to be good, we would rather like this bill to pass so they can have a dose of their own medicine.
But in reality, a source close to the legislature told us it has “as much of a chance as a rat in a cathouse.” The one cosponsor, Republican Robin Kreibich, has withdrawn his cosponsorship.
So it’s going nowhere.
It certainly paints an unflattering picture of the University of Wisconsin system, however. That system acts the way we expect large bureaucracies to act when they are free of the tonic effect of real competition. It’s true that there are plenty of private colleges in Wisconsin, but they don’t get the massive direct taxpayer subsidy of UW system campuses. Thus parents who don’t want to make huge contributions toward tuition, and students who don’t want to pile up a lot of debt, are going to favor a UW campus.
They are getting what they pay for, but unfortunately what they pay plus what the taxpayers pay should add up to a much better education than they are getting.