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Local college institutes instant replay

Jan 7th, 2017 | By | Category: Features, Lead Article

A central Pennsylvania college has become the first in the nation to institute within classroom instant replay (WCIR).  WCIR is a program to intercept harmful or biased speech (HBS) on campus and to help adjudicate violations concerning the proscription of such speech.  HBS is defined as any speech that results in the perception by a student of material or emotional harm or any speech which the student deems marginalizes their moral, political or religious views. The aforementioned definition stands as the sole guideline in the adjudication of WCIR matters and no detailed protocols for the interpretation of harmful or biased speech are provided.

The WCIR program has several components:

  • First, a video recording machine is installed in every classroom to capture faculty lectures, including both verbal and gestural (non-verbal) lecture components.
  • Second, all classroom video recording machines are linked to a central facility.  Classroom activity is not monitored in real time, but the system accommodates review of any suspect activity within a few minutes of occurrence (instant replay).  The central facility is staffed by a team of behavioral review professionals (BRP) who are charged with reviewing classroom behavior on request in near real time.  The BRP are selected and trained by the college’s administration.
  • Third, a cell phone app is distributed to all faculty and students on campus.  The app allows communication between students and the central facility and the central facility and faculty.

When a student perceives that an HBS violation has occurred, the app can be used to alert the central facility.  The student is not required to inform the teacher that an alert has been initiated, but is not prohibited from doing such.  This provision protects the complainant from any instructor retribution or emotional harm that he/she might experience by a public identification of their complaint. The app uses a one button communication protocol with an accompanying text option.  The student is not required to explain the violation, but is encouraged to do so (for review efficiency reasons).  Upon receipt of the student alert, the central facility’s BRPs notify the instructor to immediately cease classroom activity.   At that time, the instructor is not permitted to engage with the students in any manner and all formal classroom activity ceases. If the initial adjudication finds that no violation has occurred, the central facility uses the app to inform the instructor to resume classroom activity.  The instructor recites the script, “We can continue now,” and resumes the class.  If the initial adjudication finds that a violation of HBS has occurred, two public safety officers are sent to the classroom, the instructor is removed, and the class is suspended until a final adjudication is completed.  The final adjudication is performed by an executive committee appointed by the administration, including an ex-officio student representative. Upon the finding of an HBS violation, the faculty member is surveilled for inappropriate instructional content.  Upon a second finding, they are removed from their post and placed in an adjunct faculty lifestyle training program to assist in their transition.

Initial reactions to the program have been mixed.  The science and engineering faculty were unaware of its existence.  The social science faculty expressed a variety of reactions.  The sociology/social welfare  faculty expressed a Yin and Yang evaluation.  They thought student emotional protection was needed but bias complaints might turn out to be reactionary and limit analytical social exegeses.  The political science faculty were split down the middle–those on the right side of the hallway deemed it a check on the liberal hegemony infecting higher education and those on the left side of the hallway considered it a threat to vibrant classroom discussion.  The fine arts faculty composed ambiguous poems expressing their feelings and submitted them to the administration.  The economics faculty are currently modeling the data and will produce a report in the near future.

The concept of WCIR has been adapted from instant replay technology used in several sports including football, basketball, baseball, tennis, and volleyball.  Other local colleges are considering similar programs.

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  1. The report from the economics faculty is ready! Once again, the focus is on efficiency: why waste time sending two public safety officers to the offending professor’s classroom? What if further indignities are heaped in the meantime? Wouldn’t students be further traumatized? No, the matter needs to be addressed promptly.

    Accordingly, we recommend stationing a safety officer in each classroom. Thus, any infraction can be dealt with immediately! Better yet, the officer should be armed. Who knows?–the professor may be packing heat and may not take kindly to being escorted from the classroom. At Idaho State University, for instance, faculty have been known to bring guns to augment their lectures. Although not always with predictable results–see http://www.etownian.com/campus-life/professor-reflects-recent-news-story-nature-teaching-profession/

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