UMSU board meeting update

Board discusses Respondus Monitor, new working group and the U-Pass at Sept. 24 meeting

UMSU’s board of directors discussed Respondus Monitor, board restructuring and U-Pass concerns at its Sept. 24 meeting.

UMSU’s vice-president advocacy Kristin Smith reported on her efforts to gain more information about Respondus Monitor from university administration.

In a press release, UMSU stated that “54 per cent of respondents said they had received no communication from the U of M regarding its plan to allow professors to use webcam monitoring software during exams” in the 2020 UMSU member survey.

According to her report, multiple students have expressed their concerns to UMSU regarding the use of the software in their courses.

UMSU is now calling on the university to address and adjust what it views as problem areas in the implementation of Respondus Monitor.

UMSU wants university administration to implement rules and requirements such as requiring instructors to “issue a ‘practice exam’ that employs Respondus” to allow students to become accustomed to the software, requiring instructors to institute “environment checks” prior to assessments taken using Respondus, mandating instructors to take a Respondus training session before using the software, not allowing Respondus to use students’ videos to collect biometric data and explaining to the student body and student groups such as UMSU how the data and videos could potentially be used.

UMSU’s board of directors will be holding a vote to decide if it will endorse the use of Respondus Monitor by the university in a future meeting.

According to Smith’s report, this will be based on the university’s response to UMSU’s concerns.

The board also approved a motion to form a board structure working group in response to the Opportunities for UMSU Governance report by consultant Susan Rogers. The report was commissioned by last year’s UMSU board to examine proxy votes, election requirements and ways of working more optimally.

The motion reads that “the purpose of this working group will be to serve as a platform for members of the UMSU board of directors to discuss their feedback directly with representatives from the UMSU 2020-21 governance committee regarding the structure of the UMSU board of directors including (but not limited to) the following: size, representation and composition.”

UMSU president Jelynn Dela Cruz discussed ongoing U-Pass concerns in her report to the board.

“Our areas of concern include the $5 post-secondary pass activation fee and the opt-out criteria for students who reside far from a bus stop.”

Her report stated that UMSU has reached out to city councillors regarding these issues.