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T. Ryan Gregory

T. Ryan Gregory

Nov 24
15 tweets

Let's talk a little about the moral injury experienced when working under an utterly performative (but equally self-congratulatory) administration at @University of Guelph. This example -- one of far too many -- involves remote invigilation software. 🧵

Like many universities, @University of Guelph made heavy use of remote invigilation software early in the pandemic as assessments were shifted to online formats. Such software employs facial recognition and flags what it identifies as potential signs of cheating.
It soon became well recognized that such facial recognition programs were biased against students with darker skin, who had various disabilities, or are non-gender-comforming.
Some universities took action quickly. The Senate at @University of British Columbia voted to stop the use of such software in March 2021 -- nearly two years ago.…
Some of us pushed for this issue to be addressed at @University of Guelph as well. However, no matter how much we brought it up -- at Senate, Board of Governors, Council of Academic Chairs, Diversity and Human Rights -- the administration refused to do anything about it.
I won't even get into the most offensive suggestion that was tossed around for how to deal with this issue (I do have receipts however), because the policy they landed on is awful enough.
First, we acknowledge that it is discriminatory: “While Respondus may help to uphold academic integrity, we also acknowledge human rights concerns about its use, specifically student bias due to race, gender identification and disability."
Then, we put the onus on already marginalized students to request their human rights: "Students with human rights concerns about using Respondus (related to race, gender identification or disability) may request an alternative assessment..."
As I said at Senate: "Human rights do not need to be requested". Yet, we are continually told that the university has a "deep commitment" to EDI.
I wrote this almost a year ago.…
T. Ryan Gregory

T. Ryan Gregory

This is STILL the policy at the University of Guelph. I and others have raised this repeatedly at Senate, Council of Academic Chairs, and Board of Governors. We have been blocked at every turn by the senior administration and secretariate. The latter was the last straw for me.
I note that the Provost freely admitted that the use of this software and the way this was being handled was inconsistent with the values of the university. She said so at her job talk when asked about it.…
Our current Provost was interim Provost before being appointed to the position following a search. There was a public presentation and Q&A for each of the shortlisted candidates. The very first question she received was about Respondus from Dr. Mark Lipton (@drmarklipton). 🧵
"If our leaders are not true to their values and those that we purport to have as an institution, we are lost." - Excerpt of my feedback on a senior administration search, March 2021
After more than two years of our complete inability to get @University of Guelph admin to live up to the most basic principles of EDI and anti-racism, the President's Advisory Committee on Anti-Racism has issued an unambiguous statement that the use of this software needs to stop.
In accordance with the University of Guelph’s Anti-Racism Policy Statement that affirms the fundamental principle of equality of all peoples and recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of every person, it is recommended that the University prohibit the use of all proctoring software that employs facial recognition (e.g., Respondus Monitor) in online assessments. Such facial detection perpetuates inequality and inhibits the academic performance of students, by way of racial discrimination, accessibility discrimination, and cultural/religious discrimination. We further recommend that the university do a review of all other assessment tools currently in use on campus and do their due diligence in researching any future applications to ensure that they all align with the core anti-racism and EDI tenets of the University of Guelph.
But, even with this direct recommendation from their own anti-racism committee, the administration deflected to basically stating "We'll look into it and we will let you know", even after acknowledging once again that the software is biased against marginalized students.
On November 1, the President’s Advisory Committee on Anti-Racism (PACAR) brought forward a formal recommendation to advise the President on what the committee believes is a necessary step toward building a consciously anti-racist and inclusive environment at U of G. Since the introduction of remote assessment during the COVID-19 pandemic, academic misconduct has increased substantially. For some types of assessments, remote proctoring tools such as Respondus Monitor are being used to ensure integrity. Although Respondus Monitor may help to uphold academic integrity, the University acknowledges the human rights concerns associated with the technology, specifically bias due to race, gender identification and disability.
The PACAR recommendation is to cease the use of Respondus Monitor at the University of Guelph.
The University is exploring options to implement PACAR’s recommendation and we will communicate with the University community soon regarding next steps.
This kind of moral injury is the reason some of the most dedicated, compassionate, innovative, and empathetic faculty and staff are finding it necessary to disengage for their own mental well-being. #PerformativeLeadership #LifeNotImproved
T. Ryan Gregory

T. Ryan Gregory

Professor of evolutionary biology. Monger (fear, occasionally fish). Less-COVID-than-this zealot. He/him.
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