{shortcode-52deab645bec2a39756ac9df56bdf2e1c4f04235}Are you a brain-on-camera-on person or a napping-during-class-camera-off person? Turns out it doesn't matter when keeping your camera on in class is a requirement... Is this new measure of class attendance something to love or something to hate?

Love it — Nicole T. Rozelman

Be honest with yourself: as you locked eyes with your reflection in the black screen between your 19th and 20th Netflix episodes, you had a bit of a wake-up call. Your contorted slouch against your headboard couldn’t be good for you and missing campus just isn’t a good enough excuse to be wearing your Pfohome t-shirt every day. What better incentive to get your life back on track than the promise of a Zoom private message-tionship with your new section crush?

As the air starts to take on that autumn crisp, we all know the rush of nervous excitement that we kick ourselves for having as soon as the first 100 page reading gets assigned. But like it or not, school is fun. It’s the only time in our lives when we get to soak up as much information as possible from world-class professors and engage with incredibly smart and passionate peers, both of which are much harder to do with our cameras off. It’s far too tempting to scroll through Insta or honestly just take a nap during class, so camera-on policies are the extra push we need to help us make the most out of the classes we’re paying tens of thousands of dollars to be in. While Zoom can’t replicate the experience of being in a classroom, watching everyone’s reactions to class discussions and chat pms gone wrong helps make us all feel like we’re part of a community.

Plus, in this age of online classes, the students have the upper hand. By April, most of us had figured out the perfect lighting-angle-background-wfh setup for every situation. Trying to look cute in a 250 person lecture? Cameras required plays right into your “I just happened to be wearing a full face of makeup” vibe. (Pro tip: accidentally unmute yourself to make sure you’re pinned to the first grid of everyone’s screens.) Didn’t do the reading and trying to disappear? We recommend sitting in front of a sunny window and tilting your camera up for a nice half-face, half-ceiling shot. If the glare of the light isn’t enough to make your professor look away, the Zoom name label will blur your guilty face as you do work for another class.

We’re all just faking it ‘til we make it here at Zoom U, so maybe a little forced interaction with other humans and *this is fine* energy is exactly what we need to get us as close as possible to a semblance of a college experience.

Hate it — Christine Mui

No words make my ears want to curl up into my head and never come back out more than when a professor says “everyone must turn their cameras on” at the beginning of a Zoom meeting. Okay, they typically don’t word it like that. More frequently, this demand is phrased as a vague, “chill” up-to-you type of deal, along the lines of “Hey, I’d really appreciate it if everybody who’s able to can turn their cameras on.” Sure, there might be some professors who genuinely mean this, but they’ve been ruined by the handful of professors that pause class five minutes later to point out the proportion of students still with their cameras off before spending the next who knows how long contemplating out loud whether these students all have valid reasons for doing so. But at the end of the day, why do they get to determine whether my reason for wanting to turn the camera off is valid?

I’m not saying I don’t understand the reasons professors require cameras to be on. “It’s to recreate the environment of class like it would’ve been on campus.” I mean if we were in Science Center C, let’s be honest you would never dwell on my face long enough to memorize it, let alone notice if I had sunglasses on or a bag over my head, essentially the real-life equivalent of cameras-off. And though keeping cameras on does make it less likely students will go on their phone to watch TikToks, it’s certainly no guarantee. Seeing somebody’s face is only one, fairly limited component of academic engagement. Yet, I’ve noticed that professors have been stopping there when they should be focusing on how to better the presentation of material, not the presentation of students themselves.

There are less practical reasons too. Maybe, last night, at 3 in the morning, I dyed my hair pink and cut half bangs before chickening out (true story), so I’m saving the class from seeing this. Or take CS50 for example. Those same recorded class lectures are reused for the edX version of the course. I’m not trying to make my Internet debut to hundreds of try-hard highschoolers, that’s what TikTok is for. Zoom fatigue is real. For those of us who don’t have blue-light glasses, please just let me take the occasional day to focus solely on the audio.