MU Faculty Council to discuss academic freedom policy

Thursday, October 6, 2011 | 12:35 p.m. CDT; updated 8:36 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 6, 2011

COLUMBIA — A new proposal addressing academic freedom in the classroom is slated for discussion at the MU Faculty Council meeting Thursday afternoon.

Council members will have the opportunity to share opinions and concerns surrounding the "Policy on Academic Freedom, Course Discussion and Privacy," and the council will make a recommendation to the University of Missouri System.

Excerpt of proposed policy

"To foster a safe environment for learning, the unauthorized copying, editing, and redistribution of recordings of statements or comments in the course in any form are prohibited without the written permission of the faculty engaged in the course.  Unauthorized copying or distribution of such materials is a violation of academic standards and may violate copyright laws and/or privacy rights."

Council member Leona Rubin said the policy is intended to protect classroom academic freedom and to ensure that faculty and students feel comfortable engaging in open dialogue in the classroom.

The language of the proposal restricts the distribution of recordings of class comments and discussions, but some faculty and staff have raised concerns that the policy is overreaching as written and that the language of the bill could be clearer.

Dean Mills, dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, said he understands the issues that led to the policy but has concerns with the way it is written now.

"This is one of those cases in which the proposed cure is worse than the disease," Mills said.

Faculty Council meets at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in Jesse Wrench Auditorium, Memorial Union South.

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