Update: This article has been updated since it was first published with a comment from the University.
In an email to the student body Sunday, Student Government President Eric Brock reminded students that cameras are not required to be turned on for classes, encouraging them to report professors who violate the AU rule.
Brock wrote that the University prohibits professors from assessing students’ attendance or participation based on whether they have their camera on during class. Even though this policy existed throughout the semester, many students are unaware of it, which Brock told The Eagle is due to a lack of proper transparency from the University.
“We know that faculty have been sent this exact communication at least twice from the Administration,” Brock said in a statement sent to The Eagle. “In fact, we’ve been telling the Administration that this has been an issue all semester.”
In an email to faculty on Tuesday, which The Eagle obtained, Acting Provost Peter Starr and other administrators addressed the camera and time-difference concerns with professors.
“We ask that you not make these requests of students and encourage you to provide alternate arrangements for students who are facing challenges due to their personal circumstances,” Starr wrote. “This flexibility may include offering options for participation beyond engagement on video.”
AU spokesperson Stacie Burgess wrote in an email to The Eagle that alternatives may include oral exams, group projects and open book exams.
“American University remains committed to the values that have guided us throughout the pandemic which includes advancing our educational mission with equity and fairness in mind,” Burgess wrote. “Going forward, we are committed to working with both students and faculty to find the best ways to meet their courses’ learning objectives while focusing on the well-being of all.”
Despite these rules, many students have reported their professors requiring cameras throughout synchronous class sessions, according to Starr’s email.
After encouraging students to report professors who have gone against University policy, SG plans to advocate for students to the administration and notify them of which professors continue to violate the policy, Brock’s email said.
The email to students notes the struggles international students are facing, as many have been required to join live lectures, despite significant time differences.
Concerns over faculty’s handling of AU’s camera policy are especially prevalent as final exams approach. This period is always a stressful time, and camera requirements can add to that, students said.
Brock also provided a form for students to record the name of professors who violate the policy, their course and any concerns they may have. Brock said AUSG will share the information with the University.
“While the University has advised faculty of these policies several times, it is my job to ensure that this is not happening in your class,” Brock wrote. “No professor should be doing this— and sharing your story protects you and your classmates.”
If students have any other questions, they can reach out to Brock at email@example.com, he said.