When students sign up for classes, as they will in the next few weeks, it is vitally important that they understand their potential class requirements. For years, GW students have complained about a lack of available information on courses and necessary materials that go with them. Ideally, there should be a syllabus accessible online for every class during registration, but at the very least, the University should require that a list of all required textbooks be posted.
Posting the required textbooks for every class during the registration period would have a number of obvious benefits. First and foremost, giving students the book list well in advance would allow them to have more time to shop around and thus reduce their expenses. It would also give those students who are choosing electives – or any classes that are not required for their major or minor – the ability to differentiate classes that might come with a $500 textbook bill from those that will only cost $60. This could be a small start to providing more information on classes beforehand, a perennial student complaint.
Realistically, it is unimaginable to think that a full syllabus could not be posted in the same window as classes. Some could argue that there are intellectual property rights issues with posting class syllabi online. While this may be a roadblock, we believe it is a basic student right to be able to develop a manageable class schedule. Nearly three years ago, a joint committee of faculty and students considered a proposal to put syllabi online. This proposal was never carried out, and it is time to take another look at getting it done.
This is a tangible goal that Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Donald Lehman should commit to accomplishing before his retirement. It would be a small and easy goal that would be an improvement in the registration process for students. For now, we would be happy with just a book list, but the goal of posting syllabi should not be forgotten.
Readers can visit the Forum to comment on this editorial.