Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Surveillance in Classrooms at NAU
Just got an email from NAU administration that states that NAU will have detectors to track student IDs and thus attendance in classes. I find this highly disturbing. Not only does this have implications for privacy of students but also political implications. Will this be the only thing under surveillance? What happens to free speech on campus? Will social science faculty and students be tracked for the kind of speech they engage in? With Arizona's SB 1070 and the crackdown on Ethnic Studies departments in force NAU's new tracking device cannot be taken lightly. It must be protested at the highest level.
Previously, it was argued that tracking attendance would lead to more attendance rates and thus greater performance. The State is apparently to tie attendance rates to financial aid. While attendance rates might reflect good teachers, policing classrooms with detectors will not reflect the quality of teaching. It will reflect fear instead. A good university does not use policing techniques because it doesn't need to. Only an administration that has no idea how to stimulate teaching and learning would resort to such pathetic measures.
I don't think the administration has adequately argued the need for such invasive policies and if it had I can't imagine it would be accepted by the faculty or students at large. It would be good to have this new rule protested and removed. We can do without nonsense expenses also in such a tough economic climate.