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The idea of the University of the District of Columbia’s blocking students’ access to controversial Internet sites (“Web Slight,” 4/15) amounts to a mixed bag of tricks. The scholars and technical advisers may feel that controlling the amount of material available to the students may limit their exposure to negative, time-wasting resources. At the heart of any university or college are academics and the struggle to find ways to keep students motivated and focused on the purpose they enrolled and pay their hard-earned dollars for: a solid education. Surfing the Internet is not part of the plan. Individuals such as Sunny Eaton see filtering the Web as an infringement of the First Amendment right of the U.S. Constitution and in other ways censorship. However, there has to be a balance with what is important to the universities and to those who believe in spending their time wisely.
The Internet has taught us tragic lessons about the perils of mindless surfing into the Web’s shark-infested waters: documented cases of identity theft, computer viruses, and hacking. All of which occur when the inexperienced utilize information technology. To some extent, I understand the concerns about constitutional rights, but such rights do have their limits when weighed against the high risk of the troubles described above.
What I don’t understand is how surfing and/or gaining access to a lifestyle Web site has anything to do with academics, education, student enrollment, or anything connected to a college or university’s curriculum. Nonacademic purposes need not apply. UDC has to set the tone and the platform before the student body. There has to be a limit as to what is and isn’t important. Anyone who has used the Internet knows that it can be a time-waster and a diversion. College is for academics, not surfing the Internet. In life, you have to pick your battles, and the reality is that time should be spent on more constructive things that relate to education and class studies.
By now, many households have Internet service. By now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discover that people should surf where they want on their own dime and at their own computers. It is obvious that cases like Choice Point, LexisNexis, and DSLs have their share of problems that require more firewall protections and stringent computer-access policies, but a university, like any business, has to draw a line. You cannot have your cake and eat it, too.
Get a grip, go home, and surf on your own damn time.