Subject: Clarification on recordings on campus

April 9, 2019

Dear Campus Community,

Last week, there was a video recording of a confrontation between some individuals in front of the Henry Madden Library. It is disappointing that the actions represented in the video run counter to the Principles of Community the Fresno State community aspires to model – being respectful in interactions with others. We are reviewing the details with regard to this particular incident.

Please be advised that video and voice recordings are generally permitted in public spaces, such as campus outdoor areas, where there is not a reasonable expectation of privacy as defined by California law. However, recording someone after they have refused consent and expressed an intent to have a private discussion could constitute a violation of California law. If you are approached in a public space and do not want to be recorded, you are encouraged to refrain from engaging with the person(s) recording and to walk away from the situation. In contrast, recording classroom discussions may only be done if the professor teaching the class has specifically provided permission in advance such as part of an accommodation for students with disabilities. However, these recordings may only be used for educational purposes related to the class.

Under the California Invasion of Privacy Act, California requires both parties to consent before the communication can be legally recorded. Unless a professor has explicitly stated otherwise, communications in the classroom are intended for the students in the class and not for the general public. A person who records in a classroom setting without permission runs the risk of violating the professor’s federal copyright rights. A recording could also violate the privacy rights of other students in the class under the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) if it is subsequently released to the public. A person who records without permission in a classroom or lecture could face violations of a criminal law and also civil penalties for copyright violations. At Fresno State, we seek to foster and sustain a forum for the free and respectful exchange of ideas, values and opinions. Freedom of expression, however, is not an absolute right. It coexists with other rights, including the need for public safety. As such, we encourage both our campus community and visitors to maintain respectful dialogue during disagreement and to consider the impact of one’s communication.

I appreciate your taking the time to read this important message.

Sincerely,
Joseph I. Castro, Ph.D., M.P.P.
President