Professors set strict policies against cell phones in class

Professors are adjusting their syllabi and the way they are conducting their classes due to the popularity of cell phone use.

A recent article in USA Today reported that cell phone use in schools disrupts classes and makes it easier for students to cheat. Many public schools are creating cell phone bans in an attempt to form a solution to these distractions.

Currently, BG does not have a uniform cell phone policy for classes. The University allows its professors to handle this growing concern on their own.

Arthur Samel, associate professor of geography, has a strict cell phone policy outlined in his course syllabus. He will lower a student’s grade by one letter if he sees their cell phone out and two letter grades if it rings during class.

Every rule must have a reason and cell phones cause enough problems in the classroom to require this harsh of a punishment, Samel said.

“If a phone rings it disrupts the learning process of everyone in the room and I want to promote a good learning environment,” he said.

Jeffrey Gordon, another associate professor of geography, has also adapted a firm rule to the cell phone policy in his classroom. His syllabus states students are prohibited from using electronic devices during class. These devices include headphones, cameras and phones. If a student violates the policy, his or her grade will be lowered by one letter grade per incident.

But, Gordon believes cell phones aren’t just disruptive inside the classroom.

“If you look across campus, two-fifths of the kids are on the phone and are oblivious of everything around them,” Gordon stated.

Other teachers on campus have found other ways to prevent students from cell phone use in class.

James Rose, a graduate assistant in the history department, said he explains his cell phone policy to students immediately, both verbally and on his syllabus. If a student’s phone rings, he or she is expected to leave class immediately and not return for the rest of that day’s lecture.

“Controlling the environment of the classroom is key,” Rose said.

Candace Archer, assistant professor of political science, said she decided not to put her cell phone policy on her course syllabus.

Instead, she tells her students to turn off their phones.

Archer says that students should be taking class seriously if they want to be in that class.

“You pay to be in the classroom and people who disrupt that environment insult the class,” Archer said. “It’s a matter of being rude to everyone around you.”

Kelli Mock, junior, thinks that cell phones should be silenced during class.

Mock, who is taking one of Archer’s classes this semester, said she thinks her cell phone policy is reasonable.

“I think that her policy is fair because if you want to be in class, class should be your first responsibility,” Mock said. “You should be respectful to your teacher and fellow students if you choose to be in class.”

She said she understands why teachers create these rules and how they could distract them when they are trying to teach.

Jessie Laux, junior, said she has professors with similar rules and policies.

Because her teachers have these strict rules about cell phones in the classroom, Laux keeps her cell phone out of sight.

“I have a teacher who doesn’t even want to see your phone out on your desk during class,” Laux said. “I put my phone in my coat pocket or my book bag during lecture.”

Laux also tries not to text during class because of the strict rules her teachers have set.

“Because of this classroom policy, I refrain from texting or checking my phone during class,” she said.