Cease the requirement of personal phone camera use for ADDITIONAL exam proctoring at NJIT

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Given the global pandemic caused by Covid-19, NJIT transitioned to online learning. The new reality of online learning poses significant stress for students. That said, this is a measure that needed to be taken to keep all of us safe. We shouldn’t be forced to use our personal phones for an exam (we are not required to own smartphones). We shouldn’t have to stress about our privacy being invaded while taking an online exam.

Since the transition to online classes, NJIT has required for exams to be administered using a proctoring software. The software requires you to show the entire area around you, has a camera watching students, and a microphone listening to students while they take the exam. 

Many if not the majority of courses at NJIT are requiring students to sign in to Webex (class) from their personal phones and turn on the camera in addition to using the proctoring software. The camera is used to watch hand movements and see what the students are writing. We signed up and agreed to take classes online, we DID NOT agree to have our privacy invaded.

If students do not conform to this invasive policy, they risk receiving a zero for the exam.

Why it should not be mandatory for students to use their personal smartphone as a second camera:

1)Students are not required to own smartphones. Under required technology for many majors, it only lists a computer with certain specifications. We are not required to have a smartphone to take these classes, therefore, we should not be required to use our personal smartphones during the exam.

2)Using our smartphones as a second camera is an additional invasion of privacy. Respondus lockdown browser already has the camera on and is watching the student take the exam from the shoulders up. The second camera on our phone would not be through the lockdown browser, therefore the video is not secure (you could be recorded through Webex). The smartphone camera would be viewing the student's chest and torso behind their hands, which promotes uncomfortable feelings, especially for female students.

3)Setting up our smartphone cameras adds additional stress. Online learning has proven to be extremely stressful in many aspects. Adding this requirement to taking exams will put more pressure on students to set up the technology. Students will have to worry about their phones working and having the battery to operate for the entire duration of the exam.

4) Notifications pose as an inconvenience. Most of our phones are set up with notifications. We would have to go app by app to turn off notifications for the exam and then turn them back on. If this is not done, the notifications would distract students during an exam. Students will have to worry about the Webex camera session being interrupted by notifications such as calls.

We the students of NJIT ask for NJIT to reconsider their requirements for students to take exams while the phone camera is on. This protocol invades students’ privacy and adds stress to the student which could hinder performance. Above all, NJIT CANNOT require its students to utilize their personal smartphones to aid with the proctoring process. 

If NJIT is persistent on utilizing Respondus Lockdown Browser and having students set up a smartphone camera through Webex, they should provide each student with an adequate smartphone to do so, while not requesting footage that makes students uncomfortable. 

We do not need more of our privacy to be invaded. We have a right to not be watched from all angles. We have a right to ask for change.