Op-ed: Mandated syllabi is an awesome idea

UBC’s Senate is working on a policy that would mandate concrete syllabi for every course while also creating some guidelines and regulations for what specifically should be included within a course syllabus. As of right now, there is a policy in place that requires instructors to submit a syllabi when proposing a course but after that, there are no regulations — that syllabi may not even make it to the classroom.

Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by an unclear syllabus. Almost every undergraduate student has been there — you enroll in a course that sounds really interesting, only to quickly become frustrated by the lack of clarity regarding what is expected of you as a student. That’s why having mandated syllabi for each course is a great idea. We’re paying to learn at this awesome university, so UBC owes it to us to make that academia as accessible as possible — and those steps begin with the syllabus of a course. 

It should be easy for professors to prepare a simple document outlining each week’s materials, a general topic and important dates throughout the term. This works in everyone’s favour as students know what to read and when, while professors get students that are prepared... or at least students that know what they should have been reading. This doesn’t mean that there needs to be a Microsoft Word template as to what syllabi should look like, but there are certain categories that would be really helpful for a professor to include all in one place.

I’m tired of hunting through self-built websites that look like they were pulled straight out of 2004, trying to find out which section of the course I should be preparing for and which readings even correspond to that section. I’m tired of getting to class and barely understanding the lecture because I did the wrong reading. 

These problems won’t be wholly solved by mandating clear, detailed syllabi for every undergraduate course, but it will definitely help. This one is a no-brainer. 

Samantha McCabe is a third-year political science student and the web news editor for The Ubyssey.