Morning Report: College Students Are Getting Schooled on Surveillance - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: College Students Are Getting Schooled on Surveillance

Illustration by Adriana Heldiz

Students at San Diego State University are learning the hard way what it means to bring anti-cheating software into their homes during the pandemic.

VOSD intern Kara Grant reports that local colleges have been working with companies that monitor test takers virtually through their webcam. Students, in turn, are being forced to open up their homes to an algorithm that looks for “suspicious activities.”

One SDSU student said he was accused of cheating on multiple occasions for reading questions out loud, not properly showing the computer his notes, supposedly using a calculator and solving certain problems too quickly. He appealed, but the prospect of a failing grade consumed his academic life. 

Others described the anxiety they’ve experienced while being watched and the creepiness they felt when showing the camera the space on top and below their desk — what one researcher said amounted to “a crotch shot, basically.” 

Privacy advocates have been raising alarms about this type of technology, which collects facial detection data and keyboard and mouse activity. 

County Identifies Site of COVID Outbreak

Public health officials are asking anyone who attended service at Awaken Church in Kearny Mesa between Nov. 15 and 22 quarantine themselves. It’s not clear how many cases have been tied to the church. The fact we know about it at all is significant.

As the Union-Tribune reported, the county said it was taking the unusual step of publicly identifying the site of a COVID-19 outbreak because county contact tracers had been unable to reach everyone who might have been exposed.

This caught our attention because the county has been arguing in court that it should not have to make data it has about outbreaks public.

We filed a lawsuit over the summer — an effort that KPBS and the U-T joined — seeking the public release of epidemiological reports that would shed light on where outbreaks were occurring. The county argued, among other things, and a judge agreed, that the release of outbreak location data would likely cause people not to cooperate with the large effort to track and contain the spread of the virus. 

Meet San Diego’s Presidential Electors

California’s Electoral College will head to Sacramento in a couple weeks to officially cast their votes (our votes) for the next president and vice president of the United States. 

VOSD contributor Randy Dotinga explains how the process works and caught up with some of San Diego County’s electors. They include state Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a philosophy professor and a former NFL player, all of whom were appointed by the Democratic primary winner in each of the local congressional districts. 

Most states, including California, give all their electoral votes to the winners of the popular vote. Some electors over the years have gone rogue and cast their votes for someone else, which they’re technically not supposed to do. 

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby and Scott Lewis. 

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