Recording your professors’ lectures is nothing new. However technology in the past 10, if not 15 years has made it far too easy and discrete as virtually everyone can do so with their phones.
One’s own academic reference when studying was always the benign reason for recording. But what if you believed your professor’s occasional or consistent commentary or behavior was inappropriate, or presentations lop-sided, or unprofessional in some way. Combine that with the school being public, the prof’s salary paid at least in part with public funds. You’d think there’d be a duty to present a balance of the facts in a fair-minded way, juxtaposing free speech and academic freedom with academic responsibility. There has been much politicization of academia and what some profs teach and how, in terms of what is shown as well as in terms of people’s reaction to it.

Recently the famed James O’Keefe, a political activist on the Right, with his Project Veritas has been recruiting students to “go undercover” to record any number of lectures in various schools, to expose what certain so many profs are teaching & saying in class.

Professors’ objections in the past to being recorded have typically rested on the notion that their lecture is THEIR intellectual property (an ironic claim for the ones who paraphrase straight from a text). Many have stipulated on their syllabus they require permission, or that they forbid it outright, while many others don’t care, especially with the ever-present technology today. One legit concern is that footage of them playing devil’s advocate with one side of an argument may be cherry-picked, while doing so with the other side may be omitted, all to suit a political axe to grind. But the fact many don’t is what appears to be motivating many to capture footage in the first place. Maybe the best defense for a prof is to put up the lecture in it’s entirety, making it viewable only to paying students enrolled in the class.

Should you be able to record your professors? How about without asking permission, since it’s not a private conversation? Or should they be able to deny based on intellectual property? Isn’t sunlight the best disinfectant to show if a prof in a public university is really biased or just incorrect in his/her lectures? Look at it from both the students’ and profs’ perspectives, and for the many different motivations one may do so or would not want someone to do so.