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UC Expresses 'Concern' over Attendance Study

By Noah J. Delwiche, Crimson Staff Writer

Undergraduate Council representatives passed legislation Sunday evening that expressed concern over a recent study that photographed certain classes without the knowledge of professors or students, and requested that the University release the relevant findings.

Last week, Vice Provost for Advances in Learning Peter K. Bol, in response to a question posed at a meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, admitted that he had authorized a study that used cameras to track attendance for several classes.

At their General meeting Sunday, Council representatives criticized the study, passing legislation to formally request that Bol’s office provide more specifics about the study and when those students who were photographed would be notified. Bol said at the Faculty meeting that the photographs had been destroyed, but wrote in an email afterward that students who were part of the study would be notified “in short order.”

“Who thought this was a good idea, first of all,” UC Treasurer Meghamsh Kanuparthy '16 posed to the Council, which then delved into debate over what legislation would accomplish. Some worried that the  legislation was not clear as to how the information it requests should be released.

Brett M. Biebelberg ’16, the Council’s Rules Committee chair, however, suggested the possibility that the University may have not provided all the relevant or accurate information on the study. Alluding to the 2012 cheating and subsequent email search scandal, in which then Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds doubled back on her original response to the breadth of the searches, Biebelberg suggested more information may need to be released.

Though Biebelberg made clear that he was not accusing any official of lying about the study, he appeared skeptical.

“There have been breaches of trust by the University in the past. I don’t think that trust has fully been rebuilt. I think this incident serves as proof of that, and therefore I think it’s reasonable to raise questions about the totality of information that’s been released,” Biebelberg said after the meeting.

The Council also voted to introduce an amendment to its constitution, which would guarantee that funds allocated to student groups who do not pick up checks by the end of the academic year be spent the following year.

Representatives have until the Council’s next meeting to vote, but a vast majority of those present Sunday voted in favor of the measure.

Council leaders also announced that they had scheduled a meeting with Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith, following increased frustration at perceived delays. Council leaders will also meet with Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana discuss the possibility 0f a new grant that would be possible if the College would take on the cost of $36,000 the UC currently spends on Drug & Alcohol Peer Advisors and Phillips Brooks House Association. The UC would use the freed-up funds to support events hosted by multiple student groups.

—Staff writer Noah J. Delwiche can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ndelwiche.

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