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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Cutting down on paper syllabi

    As students walked into their Introduction to Psychology lectures this semester, many found that their professors had already posted or were going to post their syllabi on Blackboard and had no intention of giving out hard copies in class.

    Contrary to the beliefs of some students, the lack of printed curriculums and test schedules are not department mandated.

    Susan Grumet, assistant chair of the history department, was under the impression that instructors had been placing their syllabi online in addition to handing them out. Dan Klein, chair of the psychology department, speculates that professors of large lecture classes are avoiding distributing hard copies of their syllabi because of the state legislature slashing SUNY funding. The lack of money has adversely affected all of Stony Brook University’s departments, leaving faculty forced to find cheaper ways to effectively educate.

    When asked about his decision to post his syllabus online, Turhan Canli of the psychology department said, “I try to be environmentally conscious and waste as little paper as possible.”

    In a study by Clark University, it was found that approximately 720 trees are harvested every year to supply printer paper for a college of 3,400 undergraduate and graduate students. Comparatively, Stony Brook would need more than 5,000 trees. One way to reduce the amount of paper needed is to “place intra-office memos on a central bulletin board,” according to the Stony Brook University Campus Operations and Maintenance website. In this case, the “intra-office memo” can be considered the syllabus and the “central bulletin board” is Blackboard.

    This is not the only effort members of the campus are making to “go green.” In August 2008, the bursar’s office began implementing paperless tuition.

    “Given the convenience of Blackboard, and also the fact that, on occasion, there may be modifications made to the syllabus, I find it more sensible to post it online than to print it out for the entire class,” Canli said.

    As stated by Keith J. Anderson of Missouri Western State University, an average college student spends between 100-229 minutes surfing the web. Checking Blackboard only takes a matter of minutes.

    Students are ambivalent about the syllabus shortage. Some cannot seem to find any problems, considering the outcome of many of the hard copies of the curriculums.

    “It’s okay for professors to not hand out syllabi because students should be motivated to get it themselves,” said Prahabat Yeturu. “My teachers in high school were right in saying that college professors should not spoonfeed you.”

    However, other students would prefer that professors of large lecture classes give out their curriculum and class schedules.

    “I felt a little annoyed,” said Cierra Ray, a psychology student. “Some of them don’t even have them [the syllabi] posted on Blackboard, which is frustrating. I mean, if the professor doesn’t even prioritize the class, why should I?”

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