What Are You Really Researching?

Pornography allowed on campus computers, with few restrictions

By JAMES BOWE
On February 14, 2011

  • ResNet has no restrictions for viewing porn, but it can’t be in a public place where others may see and possibly be offended. Alex McCrossen /// The Spectrum

 For many students, college will be the first time in their lives that they are truly free. Though this allows for many opportunities to grow and socialize, this liberation also has a seedy underbelly. With the computer now almost ubiquitous, and the Internet an unlimited Wild West, access to pornography becomes more open than ever before.

 UB's official policy on porn is very simple.

 "There are no policies which prohibit viewing of pornographic materials via ResNet as long as the materials are obtained legally," said Rick Lesniak, director of the policy office for UB Information Technology (UBIT).

Porn is not simple, though, and raises many other problems. In 2005, Arizona State University librarians decided that porn viewership on public library terminals had gotten out of control, and they decided to apply Internet filters on all public terminals. UB, though, has no such content blocks on its public terminals, but it is against policy to view porn on publically displayed terminals.

"We will intercede if someone displays pornography in a public lab or prints on public printers," Lesniak said. "This is because display of pornography in public situations is considered offensive by some, and potentially harmful to minors."

That is not to imply, however, that UBIT has Big Brother-like viewership over what students are personally viewing on ResNet.

"We are careful to not review the content of network traffic such as e-mails, p2p file transfers and such unless there is a complaint, or if we have reason to suspect illegal activities," Lesniak said.

So, essentially, students are safe to view porn, as long as they don't do it in Capen Hall where everyone can see it.

Other college campuses have had issues with pornography. In 2009, students at the University at Maryland planned on screening the pornographic movie Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge in their Student Union until officials decided to cancel the screening under threats by legislators to remove funding from the school. Some legislators even suggested removing funding from public colleges that screen porn at all.

"That's really not what Maryland residents send their young students to college campus for, to view pornography," said the Maryland State Senate's president at the time, Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Some at other campuses agree with Miller's argument, and have attempted to take it one step further. In 2003, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo professor Linda Vanasupa tried to introduce a policy to the school that would ban, among other things, the viewing of porn on any school computer. Obviously, people have very strong opinions on this subject.

Of course, there is the moral issue of porn.

Many anti-porn groups argue that the nature of porn is degrading to women and damaging to society. Groups like the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families (NCPCF) claim that counselors and therapists are virtually unanimous in their view that as pornography use grows, the materials become more and more coarse and in some cases lead to acting out. They also claim that many porn actresses have come forth to say that they've felt degraded by the porn industry.

"I think to some degree [porn] would be degrading," said Eric Dudek, a senior chemical engineering major. "[But] I don't think the university should put a filter on the Internet. It should remain free."

Some feel that porn creates social stigmas about how women should look.

"Women think that guys view porn actresses as ‘hotter'," said Brianna Backus, a senior English major. "But it's none of my business. I don't think women should be so intimidated by porn."

Regardless of stance on morality, it is apparent that few people wish to place an outright ban on porn, and think it should be protected under First Amendment rights. Regulation is not out of the question, but some believe proper use should be dictated by family values.

"Good parenting is the solution," Backus said. "If you've raised your children right, it won't be a problem."

E-mail: features@ubspectrum.com


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