Student Senate opposes limits on electronics

At issue is a policy about students' use of electronics in the classroom and instructors' power to limit it.

JP Leider

Members of Student Senate spent much of their second and final meeting of the semester Thursday debating the extent to which instructors can restrict the use of personal electronic devices in University classes.

Student senators decided to oppose a proposed policy that would give instructors power to restrict or prohibit laptops and other electronics.

Later in the day, the policy passed in Faculty Senate and will now be forwarded to University President Bob Bruininks.

Administrators already acknowledge instructors have the power to limit which electronics may be used in their classrooms, said Richard McCormick, chairman of the Educational Policy Committee.

However, Faculty Senate proposed the policy because it wanted to make sure all faculty and instructors know they have this power by putting it into policy, he said.

Eric Ling was one of several students who spoke out against the policy.

“We rely a lot on the reasonability of the faculty every day. But the faculty needs to rely on college students to be adults as well,” Ling said. “Faculty and students both deserve a role in the process.”

Ling said that while academic integrity is extremely important, so is the ability of students to learn.

McCormick said the intention of the policy is not to limit the legitimate use of electronics in the classroom, but to maintain the integrity of exams, like on an open-note quiz.

“I can’t understand why faculty wouldn’t let students type notes into a laptop. It’s like stopping someone from taking notes ” it just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Student Senate Vice Chairman Rick Orr objected to the policy and said the language doesn’t protect students’ rights.

“Students on this campus pay to be in these courses and are adults, and should be treated as such,” Orr said after the meeting, in which the policy passed through Faculty Senate by a large margin.

Orr said a different proposal might be considered at the Student Senate’s next meeting and that the executive committee of the Student Senate likely will contact Bruininks about the policy.

The difference of opinion between the faculty and student senates could be a source of stress, but that’s nothing new, Orr said.

“There’s always been some tension on this topic between faculty and students,” he said. “It is the faculty’s classroom, but it is shared by the students.”

At Thursday’s Student Senate meeting, members voted to support professional and administrative employees at the University during the strategic positioning process.

The proposal, approved later by the University Senate, calls for the University to encourage priority hiring of current employees displaced by realignment.