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Students Should Support the CEG Elves

Column by Eva Moy
staff reporter

Once upon a time there was a old shoemaker who worked very hard but still remained very poor. One night, he carefully laid out the strips of leather on his work bench and went to bed. The next morning, he awoke with great surprise to find a completed pair of shoes. How did that happen, he wondered. So the shoemaker stayed up one night and saw that there were little elves who took pity on him and made the shoes at night.

Every semester, students around the Institute fill out bubble and written comment forms, in praise and complaint of their professors. These forms travel from about 350 classes in the 30 departments (including each division of Course 21, Science, Technology, and Society and the program in Media Arts and Sciences) to a mysterious office, known to them only as W20-403. There the forms are magically transformed into the 200-plus page Course Evaluation Guide. Who are these anonymous elves who take on such an odious task?

First and foremost, the CEG is a way to review teaching at MIT, to make professors responsible for their actions and to praise those who perform well. We also answer to the faculty and the departments because of ethical and financial obligations. Each of those 30 departments expects the CEG to come running to their every need. But there are only 10 of us who do this momentous task. We try our hardest to do things right the first time. Sometimes we mess up, and sometimes we have to say, no we simply have no more of ourselves to give.

Can you imagine going into Graphic Arts by yourself at 8 a.m. and making 1,000 copies? Can you imagine running around campus all day with little luggage carts of envelopes? We the elves of the CEG don't enjoy doing these tasks, but we believe that they are an important part of the overall review of teaching at MIT.

When some professor asks the class if it wants to fill out the forms and everybody answers no, when some smart aleck draws little stick figures on the bubble forms, when somebody chooses to use red pen instead of No. 2 pencil, when the response rate for most classes is down around 30 percent we try to laugh. We wonder how such bubble-deficient students ever passed their SATs. And we wonder if it's all worth the effort.

Is it ironic that some of the same students who feel it's nuisance to fill in all those forms are the same people who turn to the Guide every semester looking for advice?

In reality, the CEG threatens to fold every few years because of lack of interest and because of the enormous academic and emotional drain of such responsibility. The last time was Nov. 1993, when every editor and every experienced person quit and washed their hands of the entire matter.

I think we have recovered significantly since then, but it is the responsibility of the entire student body to make sure that this one publication be assured to continue. Whether you volunteer to help on the Guide or just go to class in the next few weeks to fill out the comment forms, you will be helping the Guide just a little bit more.

Eva Moy, a senior in Mechanical Engineering, will graduate this June, despite having devoted her life and sanity to the CEG.

Copyright 19,95, The Tech. All rights reserved.
This story was published on .
Volume 115, Number 24.
This story appeared on page 4.

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