Disability Resource Center not utilizing student note takers


Tamonda Griffiths — Editor-in-Chief
 Jessica Guerrucci — Managing Editor

Southern’s need for student note-takers has been eliminated with the introduction of a new system called Note Taker Express.

The issue with the previous system, said Disability Resource Center director Goldie Adele, is student note-takers were not providing quality notes

“Our main goal is the student,” said Adele. “That’s our focus, helping the student out and looking for different technology and resources to help them with regards to the learning process.”

According to their website, Note Taker Express is backed by “a talented human note taker” that can get students notes at the turn around rate of their choice, which in this case, Adele said, would be 48 hours.

With the previous note taking system, Associate Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Jules Tetreault said two issues were surrounding providing equal access.

“Trying to assure, one, that the student that is receiving the notes is getting high-quality notes because that’s an equity issue as well,” said Tetreault, “and also that we’re able to provide notes for all students, that have documentation, that deserve it.”

According to Tetreault, only 60% of students who needed notes were being serviced, leaving the other 40% without notes or lowquality notes.

That problem would now appear to be solved with Note Taker Express servicing 100% of students, however, concerns still arose on campus surrounding the audio taping of classrooms.

Last semester, a volatile exchange between a professor and student was captured on a cell phone, which sparked conversations amongst faculty and staff on whether or not students had the right to record their classrooms and their interactions.

In Connecticut, according to Broder and Orland LLC, it is legal to record in-person conversations with the consent of only one party to the conversation. It is also legal in the classroom if the student is present and is a part of the conversation, so despite concerns, the policy does not break any laws.

“The reality, in my thinking and I think in others thinking is we are already doing this,” said Tetreault. “We’re already recording classes with smart pen, we’re already recording classes through audio recording, we’re already providing notetaking, it’s just a different avenue of how to.”

Tetreault said he understands the concern and thinks it can be discussed, but is not convinced it is not something they should be doing in terms of supporting student success and access to the classroom.

“Our faculty members trust our students and they’re out to help them,” said Adele. “So, they know the students will benefit from tape recording the class, so it hasn’t been an issue.”

English professor, Michael Shea said while he has no issue with being recorded in his classes; he thinks having a recording device in the classroom could potentially be problematic to all parties involved.

“With this electronic thing,” said Shea, “they’re just going to record the whole class and so, if it’s not a lecture-oriented course and you’re having a discussion, a lot of the information is gonna be hard to follow.”

Shea said he and fellow members of the School of Arts and Sciences were notified of the change on Monday, Aug. 26, a day before classes began.

It would be hard to have open and honest discussions in a classroom Shea said when students are aware, they are being recorded.

“Creates a conflict of who can record and why,” said Shea, “because you can’t explain to the class, they have a disability because you can’t talk about disabilities in public.”

Most professors outline in their syllabi their want for students to power down and conceal all electronic devices during class time. It would be “challenging” for a student with a disability not to be readily identified if they use their cell phone as a recording device, Shea said.

Another concern brought about by the change in policy is the idea of intellectual property

“So, people might not want to be recorded for the sake of, you know, making sure that their work stays – they’re kind of in control of how their work gets out there,” said Shea. “That might be an issue for some faculty.”

Interim dean of the School of Arts & Sciences Bruce Kalk and Tetreault said they acknowledge intellectual property is a concern for some faculty members, however, Tetreault said he has a slightly different view

“I don’t disregard their concern about intellectual property,” said Tetreault, “but the discussion in a classroom, in my view, and it may be different, is not really necessarily intellectual property.”

Photo Credit: Tamonda Griffiths

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