Critics of online-notes ban argue free speech

Liz Bogut

Some University students are upset that faculty members want to deny them the opportunity to make up to $2,000 a semester just by attending class.
A faculty committee recommended a policy Feb. 24 requiring students to obtain permission from professors before posting class notes online. The policy needs University President Mark Yudof’s approval to be officially adopted.
“Who is a professor to say I cannot give my class notes to someone else? Posting them online is the same thing,” said Anthony Clark, a College of Liberal Arts junior. “The professors are infringing on students’ right to free speech.”
Clark said professors should not be upset about their intellectual property being published because a student’s notes are his or her own interpretation of class material.
CLA sophomore Dan Hejl agreed and said there is no way faculty members can control students trading notes.
“If students miss class, they will find ways around it. Students will always trade notes; it’s going to happen,” Hejl said.
For students who have to miss class, Web sites offering class notes online might be a valuable resource for catching up.
“I use those Web sites all the time, and I think they are very helpful. I don’t see why professors would want to ban something that helps students,” said Ricky Edwards, a Carlson School of Management senior.
Edwards said the policy would completely violate the First Amendment.
Aside from convenience, some students thought money was a major attraction to the Web sites for posting class notes online.
StudentU.com, one Web site that posts class notes, will pay students $400 for each class per semester.
“Why would the University want to keep students from making money for something they can do every day by coming to class?” said Alaina Herfindal, an Institute of Technology junior.
Edwards said some students do not have time for jobs, and the Web sites were a good source of income for students.
But others were in agreement with the policy, saying it protects faculty members’ rights and helps ensure the information is accurate.
“I see things from the University point of view. I don’t think students should benefit from professors’ knowledge,” said Sina Moassesfar, sophomore in the College of Biological Sciences.
Moassesfar said the University should sponsor their own Web site where students can post their notes.
Institute of Technology junior Amy Daali said students should have to consult professors before posting notes online to make sure the information is correct.
“This policy would not violate students’ rights to free speech. They need to check with professors before they post things online,” Daali said.

Liz Bogut welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3217.