The Associated Students of Madison’s Shared Governance Committee met Tuesday night to discuss candidates for a search committee to choose a new chancellor and a proposed policy from the university police department on facial recognition software.
The meeting began with a Q&A about the screening process for a new chancellor. ASM is responsible for nominating five student representatives out of a pool of 394 applicants to serve on the Chancellor Search and Screen Committee, which will work with faculty, staff and administrators to interview candidates to replace outgoing Chancellor Rebecca Blank.
The committee’s work will likely start in early December 2021 and finish in May 2022. Blank will leave UW at the end of the spring semester.
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The applicants for the selection committee positions were screened in a smaller committee meeting. Some members of the Shared Governance Committee shared concerns about the process, arguing the smaller committee did not spend enough time reviewing the candidates.
The committee also discussed a policy sent in by the University of Wisconsin Police Department about its use of facial recognition software. Last year, ASM passed legislation that would prevent UWPD from using facial recognition software. Recently, UWPD sent back a policy for student feedback outlining the limits of their facial recognition jurisdiction.
The policy lists scenarios where UWPD could use facial recognition software, but the committee had some concerns about the wording of the scenarios. Some members of the committee believe the scenarios were vague, which would give UWPD more power to use the facial recognition technology.
One example of this was a clause that allowed UWPD to use facial recognition software in any situation where it would “mitigate an immediate threat to health and safety.” Committee member Andrew Pietroske expressed concerns about the subjectivity of this proposed clause, saying UWPD wants the policy to be vague to allow for more flexibility.
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Another clause that drew some concern would give UWPD the ability to use facial recognition if they need to access a student’s phone “for the sole purposes of user authentication or entry into a room.” Some committee members believed this may lead to an invasion of privacy.
The discussion then turned to possible revisions to the policy. Jonah McGarvey suggested explaining to students what facial recognition is and how it would be used, to prevent students from distrusting UWPD.
The committee concluded by briefly touching on the all-you-can-eat dining hall system and the possibility of it remaining in place. The group will meet again on Nov. 23.