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April 12, 2016

College Council to Prohibit Audio Recording at Meeting Tonight

College Council (CC) plans to prohibit audio recording of its meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Stuart Hall, according to CC Chair Eric Holmberg.

At the meeting, CC will hold a short debate and then vote on a resolution calling for the University to divest from 10 companies active in Israel, according to its weekly agenda.

“No laws obligate us to allow recording at our meetings, so it is up to the [CC] body to decide,” Holmberg told The Maroon in an e-mail earlier today. “At this evening’s meeting…we will not be allowing recording given the sensitive nature of our agenda.”

“We are prohibiting recording upon counsel of our advisors in the Center for Leadership and Involvement,” he wrote in another e-mail to The Maroon. “Our advisors in the Center for Leadership and Involvement told us that no laws require us to allow recording.”

Illinois’ eavesdropping law requires that all parties involved in private, but not public, conversations give consent to being recorded. The law defines private conversation as oral communication between two or more people in which the speakers have a “reasonable expectation” that the discussion will remain private.

CC’s weekly meetings are open to all students, according to Article 1, Section 5 of the Student Government (SG) Constitution. SG has also encouraged student attendance at tonight’s meeting, both via the @UChicagoSG Twitter account and in an e-mail to undergraduate students on April 8 that advertised the meeting. Holmberg said that despite the recording ban, tonight’s meeting is on the record, meaning that quotes from the meeting can be published. Holmberg added that CC has “typically” allowed recording during his tenure as CC chair.

At last week’s meeting, fourth-year CC member Clark Halpern told Maroon reporter Emily Feigenbaum, who was recording the session for an article, that it was illegal for her to be recording. He asked her to delete the recording in front of him, which she did.

“Holmberg consulted our advisors in the Center for Leadership and Involvement and confirmed that [CC] is not required to allow recording at our meetings,” Halpern said.

Although Holmberg did not specify prior to the meeting that recording was prohibited, a second attendee was later identified as recording, and Holmberg announced that recording was prohibited.

According to the proposed agenda for tonight's meeting, the first 40 minutes of the meeting will be allocated to discussion with Dean of the College John Boyer and Dean of Students in the College Jay Ellison on their plans for the year regarding housing and sexual assault. The focus of the meeting, however, will be the discussion and vote on the divestment resolution, according to the agenda.

While Holmberg said that photographs will be allowed for the first part of the meeting, CC plans to prohibit photographs during the divestment debate.

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