Following my exposé this past spring of two Labor Studies professors at the University of Missouri who were using their positions to recruit students to the Communist Party and encourage the use of industrial sabotage, several universities have attempted to crack down on the recording of professors by students.
There are, no doubt, professors all over the country who are engaging in equally egregious teaching practices as Don Giljum (who reportedly resigned) and Judy Ancel (who’s now enjoying life as a Kansas City Occupier; she addresses #OccupyKC in the video below from 3:44 to 3:54 – hat tip to KansasWatchdog).
My guess is that enough professors complained to prompt faculty associations at both the University of Missouri and Washington University in Saint Louis (my alma mater) to pass resolutions calling for a ban on recordings in the classroom without the written permission of the instructor.
Unsurprisingly, students at both universities found these bans unnecessary and overreaching.
The Office of Judicial Programs at Washington University first proposed the ban on any recording, filming, or photographing of lectures without explicit permission. Soon thereafter, the Student Union Senate voted 6-12 to table the proposition, correctly observing that the rule change benefitted students in no way whatsoever.
After paying upwards of $45,000 annually to attend Washington University, students should be encouraged to record whatever they want. Regardless of how much a university would like to protect its reputation from its embarrassing professors, students should never doubt their right to record and disseminate class material.
The University of Missouri followed suit shortly thereafter with a new recording policy of its own. Their Faculty Council passed a similar ban on the recording of lectures without the consent of the professor. The Missouri Students Association responded with a resolution which defended students’ rights to record and share class material. The resolution passed with only one dissenting vote.
Students at both universities should be commended for fighting back. University professors have more job security than almost any other members of the American workforce. They do not need a whole new set of rules and regulations to protect their bad behavior from public scrutiny, especially when that behavior is heavily subsidized by the taxpayer, as was the case at the University of Missouri.
State legislatures should make clear to their university systems that the rights of students should always outweigh the job security of professors and the university’s public relations. Students across the country should be on the lookout for similar policies, and they should be prepared to push back whenever necessary.