For Immediate Release:
February 15, 2021
The Campus Faculty Association (CFA) stands in solidarity with and supports the successful efforts of the UIUC Graduate Employees Organization and hundreds of undergraduate students, demanding that the UIUC terminate its use of Proctorio. We celebrate their victory in pressing the university to decline to renew its contract with Proctorio after the summer session. Until Proctorio is fully removed, we strongly encourage all CFA members and tenured faculty to refuse it.
Unfortunately, Proctorio is only one of several classroom technologies that raise serious concerns about faculty and student privacy and pedagogy. Other forms of technology, like Packback and Turnitin, which already have significant footprints on campus, threaten student and worker privacy in ways that are not upfront and clear to users. They also endanger the quality and quantity of academic labor. The University’s increasing approval and contracting of such classroom technologies also signals a troubling, undemocratic trend in administrative approaches to academic labor and pedagogy that damage its relationship with faculty and students.
As teachers and mentors to UIUC students, we understand that effective pedagogy requires trust, open communication, and strong relationships among all members participating in a course. Surveillance technologies like Turnitin openly violate that trust by assuming students will cheat and install preemptive measures to discipline their behavior under the already stressful conditions of an exam or paper deadline. Packback, which purports to be a “Digital TA,” poses additional threats to our community’s shared educational mission, not to mention the livelihoods and careers of many of us.
Without any real consultation with faculty, the university has become increasingly reliant on surveillance technology and automated pedagogy. In some cases, the turn to technology has been an obvious and necessary response to the pandemic. In others, the crisis has clearly created an environment of “disaster capitalism” that serves private interests at the expense of UIUC students, workers, and faculty. We believe that outsourcing education to private corporations is not only an irresponsible use of limited funding and resources, but also exposes UIUC constituents to serious threats to their privacy and well-being. Most important, it undermines the foundations of a strong, resilient campus community–now needed more than ever in this moment of multiple crises.
As the organization representing the most privileged and secure class of workers on campus, the CFA calls on all instructors, especially tenured faculty, to refuse to use these technologies. The CFA further demands that the university administration honor its purported commitment to shared governance by seeking serious consultation and input from faculty and other relevant campus workers before committing to contracts for any future “university-approved” classroom and surveillance technologies.
Who We Are
The Campus Faculty Association (CFA) is an advocacy organization for faculty and other campus workers committed to shared governance, academic freedom, and a strong faculty voice on campus. The majority of CFA members are tenure-stream faculty. Non-tenure stream faculty in most campus units are represented by their union, the Non-Tenure Faculty Coalition Local #6546.
CFA supports the principles of faculty unionization and represents a clear and organized faculty voice. We provide an independent perspective on the university and higher education. <something like that? Or remove>
CFA has been active on the UIUC campus for more than forty years, working on issues of academic freedom, faculty working conditions, and racial and gender equity.