Third-year arts and management student Mathew Ho wants to improve mental health and student evaluations of teaching (SETs) as a student senator.
Ho is one of ten candidates seeking five student Senator-At-Large positions in this year’s student elections.
Ho says that SETs were a widely discussed issue during his two years of as an AUS representative on the faculty of arts council. Now, he wants to bring it up in Senate.
“I feel like it's a great next step in the learning process,” he said.
But during his interview and the debates, Ho struggled to give cohesive answers on how he’d implement his platform. He hesitated while describing his main platform points and was completely unable to respond when asked what he thought current senators have done well. He also has no campaign material or platform online.
However, Ho critiqued current senators for ignoring topics like SETs.
“[Something] I would like to improve on is probably focusing on some of the issues that haven't been like extensively talked about so far,” he said.
He was unable to respond when asked what he thought current student senators were doing well.
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Ho says that SETs haven’t been reviewed for a long time and plans to sit on the teaching and learning committee to review them once per term, “since each evaluation happens on a term basis,” he said.
However, Senate reviewed SETs as recently as December 2018. Ho acknowledged this, contradicting his earlier statement.
Currently, UBC evaluates instructors for promotions based on SETS but Ho thinks this needs to change, citing recent arbitration at Ryerson University which concluded that SETs shouldn’t be linked to instructor promotions.
“One of the concerns that I’ve heard from faculty council that has also been related to senate was how ... student evaluations aren’t good enough to measure teaching effectiveness and stuff,” he said.
Ho wants SETs to be conducted earlier in the term to allow professors to adjust their teaching methods before a final end-of-term evaluation. However, Ho did not address how students would have had less time with the instructor to base their feedback.
He also took issue with survey questions themselves, but did not elaborate on how he would change them.
“We don’t really have a good way of determining how these numbers are being determined,” he said.
Aside from SETs, Ho briefly mentioned improving the accessibility of mental health resources available for students.
“It's due to my personal experience accessing mental health services here in UBC, and it's just the difficulty of getting to that,” he said.
Ho avoided mentioning any specifics, but briefly touched on the link between curricula and mental well-being.
“... It’s going to be challenging to [put] out a plan that can ... effectively link so many different resources and opportunities together,” he said.