Academic Freedom Policy Changes Spark Debate

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COLUMBIA - Some University of Missouri faculty said Wednesday they are concerned their classrooms could soon be taking more privacy precautions. The University of Missouri's Faculty Council has proposed changes to it's policies on academic freedoms, classrooms and discussions. The policy change is in reaction to the UMSL/UMKC controversy over a highly-edited labor class video.

The Faculty Council's statement said information shared within the classroom is not to be shared with anyone outside of the classroom without the consent of the the professor of that class.

Communications Law Professor, Sandy Davidson, said this closed-classroom approach could harden the relationship between students and their professors. She said, "I'm afraid it could have a chilling effect on the discussion in the classroom".

Davidson wasn't too fond of the wording of the proposed changes and said "the policy seems a bit vague to me."

The proposed changes to academic freedoms are to help protect students and faculty, but Davidon said "there is already legal recourse for this, and it is called defamation lawsuits."

Art and Design Professor, Mike Jennings, said he believes the changes in policy could cause problems with transparency. He said it is the University's responsibility to be honest and clear about what is being taught in it's classes, and these changes could be in conflict with that responsibility.

Jennings said,"I think restricting recordings, and of closing classrooms, saying this is all secret stuff, all of this is off the record, is the wrong approach."

Academic freedoms are important to both students and faculty, but Davidson said the proposed changes might be taking it too far though.