Letter to the Editor

Yesenia Rodas

Being a mathematics and education major, I find it vital to have not only

professors well versed in their subject but who are also able to effectively educate

and inspire students. Every semester, I put in some work and actively sought out the

professors with the best reputations and last year, when I decided to take a math course

during the summer to get ahead, it was no different. I asked around and found out from

my classmates that the professor that was scheduled to teach the class didn’t actually

do much teaching and that I wasn’t going to learn anything. I decided to take the class

anyway figuring that people were exaggerating and it couldn’t actually be that bad. I was


I couldn’t believe how poorly this course was taught. The professor never gave a

syllabus and in those weeks we only covered two chapters. The professor would arrive

to class 10-20 minutes late and would end the class 20-30 minutes early. This 3-credit

course was supposed to be a total of 32 hours but the professor cut it down to about 24.

We were losing about 8 hours and learning nothing. Most of my classmates were thrilled

but I felt like I was being robbed. I paid for this class with my own money and I wanted

to learn something. It especially concerned me because this class was a pre-requisite for

a more advanced course I’d have to take later on. During the course, the professor would

initiate personal, off-topic conversations and remain off-topic for extended periods of

time. He would misplace our quizzes and promise to bring them in next the next week

then forget.

As I planned out my academic schedule for the year, I noticed that this same

professor was scheduled to teach the class following the pre-requisite for Spring 2015.

That was when I decided to do something. There was no way I was sitting through

another course with this professor so I created a petition. I asked STEM students to sign

it to remove this professor from teaching this higher-level math course. I wanted as many

signatures from my peers to prove that my story wasn’t the only.

Before each of my classes, I would get up in front of the students who were early

and explain that what I was trying to do. I wanted to inspire students to sign the petition

because they were invested in their educations and tired of teachers who had obviously

stopped caring. While some students immediately agreed to sign their names, I also got a

lot of “Come on, he’s an easy A!” as a reaction. Eventually I got a total of 29 signatures

and I presented this to the head of the math department. It was then passed on to the Dean

of the College of Arts and Sciences. A week later, the Dean held a meeting with a group

of students to discuss our concerns.

I went to this meeting prepared with evidence, class notes, and other materials to

back up every point we were making. My petition was a success! With the help of my

peers, we were able to change the professor for the course. As I explained to the Dean,

what motivated me to make this change is I’m not just concerned with my education. I’m

concerned with the young women who will follow me into the STEM program, walking

into classrooms that are predominantly filled with men. I’m writing this letter because

I want to let other NJCU students know that they can take control of their educations.

I want them to know that they deserve better than professors who are just collecting

paychecks and know they have the ability to affect change if they feel they are not

receiving the best possible education the university has to offer.