Kitchener-Waterloo

Wilfrid Laurier University reverses webcam requirement for final math exams

Wilfrid Laurier University has reversed a requirement for math students to purchase external webcams for exams, saying it now realizes it was an impractical request.

Some courses will require computer equipped with webcam for assessments, university says

Wilfrid Laurier University says no student will be required to purchase an external webcam to write online exams in Mathematics or Computer Science. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Wilfrid Laurier University has reversed a requirement for math students to purchase external webcams for exams.

On May 14 the chair of the mathematics department, Roman Makarov, sent an email to students saying everyone registered in at least one course in the department for the spring term would need a stand-alone webcam with good resolution and a tripod.

Students had pushed back against the earlier requirement, calling the move unreasonable in a global pandemic.

The University has since announced a reversal of this requirement.

"I am writing to confirm that no student will be required to purchase an external webcam to write online exams in Mathematics or Computer Science during the spring/summer/intersession terms," interim provost and vice president Maureen Mancuso said in the statement on the university's website.

Mancuso said the university pulled back the requirement, given the many questions and concerns students raised about cost availability of webcams, privacy and conflict with the non-tuition fee protocol.

"Most critically, the availability of webcams (and the cost of those which are available) is a significant issue," Mancuso said.

"The bookstore and ICT conducted an extensive search for webcams and they determined that it would not be possible to guarantee that every student who needed a webcam would have one." 

The university did note there are still some courses that require computers to be equipped with a webcam for assessments, but that they are not essential for final exams. In that case the cameras can be internal or external, the memo said. 

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