Campus

CUNY Is Watching Us

This new software will catch you cheating, and much more.

By: Sabrina Benet

Students fear that their information will fall into the wrong hands during this transition. Credit: Sabrina Benet

 

As the Fall 2020 semester continues to be remote, students can no longer be observed while taking tests or writing papers. CUNY schools are scrambling for software services to put a stop to academic dishonesty. 

McGraw Hill Publishing, in tandem with CUNY introduced Proctorio. The proctoring service that violates the CUNY student privacy. The program is able to modify, manage, and change settings on a person’s computer and web browser. Proctorio monitors things such as all open screen content, students’ eye movements via webcam, and does initial and periodic room scans. In addition, it stores and manages all content produced from your session while using it, leaving students wary of where all that information will go. 

“You are never supposed to allow someone access to your personal computer,” said Michael Losi, CSI student. “Regardless if it’s a school or teacher, once you open the port on your computer to allow an outside source to connect to, you open yourself up to others connecting as well who may have malicious intent to steal information like passwords and credit card details saved.”

This program is currently used in over 400 institutions and supposedly increases the accountability for students and how they take exams while distance learning. 

The student body and faculty have become aware of the software through a circling Change.org petition titled, “Do Not Let CUNY Violate Student Privacy”. This petition was established three weeks ago by CUNY Students who remained anonymous, it now has over 27,000 signatures and 12,500 supporters. The comment section is full of frustrated students, parents, and faculty fighting off this academic shift. 

CSI has not confirmed they will be going through with using Proctorio specifically, however it is understood that we do need to assure students are being honest in their academic work. 

Will students be able to opt-out of these services? “They do have the option, the CUNY Office of Legal released a statement addressing that students can opt out if they request to do so.” Provost Parrish said. 

“The Office of Legal Affairs (OGC) has reviewed the Terms and Conditions of several online testing application services and it is OGC’s position that faculty cannot compel students to accept the corresponding tools “Terms and Conditions” and that in the event students do not accept the terms, faculty must provide students reasonable assessment accommodations to demonstrate they meet the course learning requirements,” the statement said.

CUNY states on its website tab titled, ‘Guidance on Academic Continuity to campuses’ that the University is making negotiations with programs and are confident that we can have one, possibly two of these software programs enabled by the time midterms come around. 

“If online classes have been around for years, why look into a program like this now?” said Losi. “I should not have my rights to privacy violated in the event other students were using notes to cheat.”

 “It is not a new topic, this has been under discussion since we moved online in March. There have been several kinds of software that have been negotiated with CUNY Legal and the software companies in some cases. It is just taking a while, faculty are used to objective tests, so they would like to use proctoring software. I think the whole discussion has been careful to discuss everyone’s rights,” Provost Parrish said. 

As signatures on the petition continue to increase by the hour, there have been updates. “The USS has been doing a ton CUNY-wide to raise this issue,” Veliokdney said. “Right now there are 27,000 signatures on the petition, awareness is increasing.”

“There’s a degree of protection for students when it comes to privacy, where do we draw the line when it comes to our right to personal privacy? Because of the pandemic, that line has become very gray, it has been crossed a lot because of our current circumstances.” 

 

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