EXCLUSIVE: Notre Dame issues warning to students who share 'recordings of live classes'

The university threatens "severe sanctions" for anyone who does not follow the policy.

Campus Reform obtained an internal email from the University of Notre Dame in which students are told not to share "recordings of live classes."

In an internal communication obtained by Campus Reform, students at the University of Notre Dame were advised not to publicly share “recordings of live classes” with anyone outside the school, and threatened “severe sanctions” for anyone who might do so. 

”All Notre Dame students should keep the following general principles in mind,” the email to students read, adding that classrooms, “whether physical or virtual or physical,” is meant to a “safe and secure environment for learning.” Students were instructed to “pay careful attention to your instructors’ rules and guidance regarding the sharing of class learning materials, permitted forms of collaboration, and other behaviors related to remote learning and teaching.” 

”Do not share learning materials, recordings of live classes, or any other depictions of in-class conduct by your classmates or your instructor with external groups or via social media or other public platforms for any reason; and sharing private communications, information, depictions, or learning materials for the purpose of inviting external commentary, ridicule, or embarrassment is an especially egregious violation of trust and University policy that may lead to severe sanctions,” the message to students continued. 

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The email comes as Campus Reform has reported on professors expressing concern that their online lectures could be shared with external parties, such as “right wing sites.” “If you are recording a lecture on anything controversial, be prepared for right wing sites to ask students to share it,” Texas Christian University Professor Emily Farris tweeted, prompting responses from at least five other academics sharing concerns.

One Notre Dame student who spoke to Campus Reform on the condition of anonymity for fear of facing disciplinary sanctions, said, “As a student, I’m fine with not sharing Zoom links or course materials- I deserve what I paid for. But if a professor is harrassing conservatives, or being unfair to any student, for that matter, not being able to reach out to outside groups to let them know makes me feel like we’re not in college, we’re in re-education camps.” 

Even the student who originally informed Campus Reform of this story asked to remain anonymous, citing fear of discipline. 

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Foundation for Individual Rights in Education Individual Right Defense Program Director Adam Steinbaugh told Campus Reform, “Faculty members are reasonably apprehensive about having clips from classroom lectures taken out of context. Institutions should support -- not punish or censor -- faculty who find themselves targeted by online outrage for speech protected by academic freedom.”

But, Steinbaugh added, “While Notre Dame’s email encourages students to keep ‘general principles’ in mind, it specifically prohibits as a violation of institutional policy the sharing of information or recordings if the student’s purpose is to criticize or cast a negative light. That’s a form of viewpoint discrimination: A student could publish a clip from a lecture to praise a professor but couldn’t publish a clip to criticize a professor.”

Campus Reform reached out to the University of Notre Dame for comment but did not hear back in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @arik_schneider