The texting divide: Profs dislike it, but students persist




Almost everyone does it.

Look around campus when you get out of class and most everyone has their eyes glued to their phones while their thumbs fly across the screen.

What about texting in class?

Students and professors sometimes have differing opinions about phone use in class.

“I think it is fine to text in class,” said student Emily Auten. “I like having it (my phone) by me in class in case of an emergency. I had an emergency before in class and having my phone by me was necessary.”

Nicole West agrees with using phones when in need – but not all the time.

“In emergency situations, you should be able to use your phone,” she said. “Other than that, I can understand why professors think it’s rude to text in class.”

Prof. Heather Hill-Vasquez frames the issue in a different a light.

“The first thing I would say is actually a question: Why would you text in class?” she asked. “It’s like texting when you are driving. You are in class in order to be in class. Your attention should be on the learning environment, on the professor and on your class colleagues.”

Hill-Vasquez said she sees it as a “no-brainer.” She is strict about texting, and students who text in her class face heavy deductions on their final grade.

“What gets me is that I make my policies about texting and phones in class very clear from day one, but students still continue to violate the policy – what gives?” she asked. “It’s disrespectful to the rest of the class, to the professor and to yourself. Smarten up and don’t do it.”

Hill-Vasquez noted that most of her students don’t text during class.

“Most of my students do ‘get it’ and the ones who ‘get it’ tend to be the better and more responsible students and are usually the students who end up most successful in life and career,” she said.

Different teachers handle the issue in different ways.

English Prof. Michael Barry doesn’t focus on it early in the semester.

“I like using my first day of class talking about literature, not about phone use,” he said. “It can be distracting but I don’t want to use my first day talking about polices, I want to talk literature.”

Political science Prof. Genevieve Meyers makes sure to bold-type her policies on texting in her syllabus.

She states that it is disruptive and asks students to not just silence their phones, but turn them off.

She thinks that texting is a sign of disrespect, and also a sign that students don’t care about the class, which also shows them not to be good students.

Her penalty is embarrassment. No one wants to be the kid to get called out, but that is what she does, she said.

Although some students agree with professors who object, others believe that it shouldn’t be prohibited.

“I believe that texting shouldn’t be prohibited,” Sarah Casanosky said. “If you need to send something quickly for a meeting or what not, those things should be allowed… Everyone’s busy.”

She said if it takes more than a minute, it is disrespectful to the professor.

Student Tayla Gibb thinks that she should be allowed to use her phone no matter what.

“I should be allowed to text,” she said. “I’m an adult. If I need to send a text, I should do so under my own discretion. I’m paying for the class, so why should I not be allowed to?”

With cell phone use growing, the problem is not likely to go away.