Protection for classroom culture

At the March 13 faculty meeting, the faculty of the College discussed a proposed change to the student handbook that would clearly state that the audio and/or visual recording of lectures is forbidden without the expressed permission of the instructor. We approve of this addition, as it will make the existence of policy obvious, and as students of the College, it is our responsibility to understand that policy. The handbook will also state that any recorded lectures cannot be posted to the Internet and that lectures recorded with permission are to be used only for personal studying and to accommodate students with disabilities.

At first glance, recording lectures may seem like a perfectly innocent way to review and study for a class. However, there are some ethical concerns that accompany the recording of lectures. The first concern is that a lecture is the intellectual property of the professor who delivers it; faculty have the right to control the recording of their lectures by law. As students, we must respect the rights of the faculty at our College. There is nothing inherently wrong with recording lectures so long as a professor has granted students explicit permission.

The second concern is that the online use of posted lectures and other course materials could easily be abused. If given permission, students should record lectures and use them to study if they so desire. However, providing lecture materials to other students who are not going to class or who are not even students at the College is inappropriate. It might be useful to add a provision for recording lectures to the Honor Code so there may be significant consequences for recording lectures and posting them online. In the faculty meeting, though, it was stressed that clarification and not consequences was the purpose of the revision.

We believe that the College’s new policy on recording lectures is in line with the College’s ethos as a whole. At other colleges and universities, it is often perfectly acceptable to record lectures, and professors and administrations occasionally even take the initiative to post lectures online. We at the Record do not think that is an appropriate policy for the College. Face-to-face learning, especially in the intimate classroom settings available at the College, is extremely valuable. Students should attend and be fully engaged in lectures, and the new policy on recording lectures will help make that clear.

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