UM Executive Order Has Professors Debating Free Speech

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COLUMBIA - MU faculty reacted Tuesday to a new UM executive order put out by UM System Interim President Stephen Owens. The new policy is in regards to students recording lectures and classroom discussions. The order requires any student who records audio or video to get permission for those in the recording if they want to redistribute it outside the classroom.

This comes after conservative Andrew Breitbart took snippets from recorded lectures of two UM professors and edited them together making it sound like they supported union violence.

While the new policy aims to keep these instances from happening again, some MU faculty members worry this could infringe on students' First Amendment rights. Associate Professor of Journalism Students Charles Davis called the executive order "laughably unenforceable" and unnecessary.

"I am more than a bit concerned with how quick we are to restrict the ability of students to record our work -- work they and other taxpayers fund," Davis said. "This policy strikes me as a gross overreaction to one rather bizarre isolated event."

But MU Faculty Council Chair Harry Tyrer disagreed and said this will protect students and their speech. Tyrer said the UM System hopes to promote student expression with the new policy because it doesn't want recordings to intimidate students from voicing their opinions in the classroom.

Tyrer said for teachers to protect themselves they need to establish in their syllabus what they will allow students to record. Davis said this order is just a solution in search of a problem.