Rutgers faculty union takes stand against campus email system
- Inside Higher Ed reports on faculty union members' increased calls for its members to boycott the institution's new email system, which they say opens the door to limited privacy of communication and unnecessary monitoring of teaching and research.
- The school upgraded to a form of the Microsoft 365 suite earlier this year, and with it introduced a new tech policy which says that emails classified under "university business" could be subject to review by the administration.
- Union members say the policy should be updated to exempt certain work-related emails, and say the institution will not budge on changing the policy language. Administrative officials told Inside Higher Ed that teaching and research communications should be understood as off limits to surveillance.
Rutgers and other institutions using extensive review language of faculty and student emails should be clearer with their intent. Is there a reason to suspect criminal activity or terrorism? Do officials have reason to believe that unethical or immoral use of email has become an issue?
Telling employees to sign on for limited freedom of work-related technology, which in some states allows for some limited personal use, is a certain way to generate bad press, and to potentially lose good faculty for reasons that could be explained with stronger communication. Many professors believe that increased pressure is coming with stronger calls for free speech and limitations on academic freedoms which may be a hallmark of the new U.S. presidential administration; this kind of initiative seemingly heightens that fear without explanation.
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