The case for a porn-free UD

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A student reads a report by the Love and Fidelity Network about Fight the New Drug, an organization that opposes the pornographic industry. Photo by Patrick Goodman.

The University of Dallas student government (SG) ought to enthusiastically encourage the implementation of a Wi-Fi filter to help mitigate the destructive effects pornography has on our community and help us stay true to our Catholic identity.

Before spring break, SG discussed the potential installation of the Wi-Fi filter, which would prevent students from accessing pornographic websites over the campus Wi-Fi.

While some have expressed concern over the filter, I join the students who believe that properly implementing a Wi-Fi filter is a fantastic idea.

Instituting the filter would mitigate the destructive effects of porn, and it would reinforce the university’s position as an authentically Catholic institution that values the dignity of the human body.

Although porn is often treated as a taboo subject, people need to honestly discuss its effects if we ever want to debate the idea of a Wi-Fi filter.

Porn is destructive on a number of levels, any one of which is reason enough to prohibit students’ access to it. For example, porn is demonstrably harmful to users’ relationships.

In a formal testimony before the United States Senate, a premier psychologist, Dr. Jill Manning, shared data demonstrating that 34 percent of divorces in America involve one party having an “obsessive interest” in pornographic websites.

Studies by The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) and  have supported this assertion by concretely linking porn usage to an increase in domestic violence and sexual assault rates.

Although these statistics are shocking, more shocking still are the effects that porn addictions have on the viewers themselves.

The internet is flooded with polling data and personal testimonies detailing how pornography causes male impotence, even among teenagers as young as 15 years old. When coupled with the data on how pornography affects relationships, it becomes clear why some are concerned for the student body’s welfare.

However, the filter is not just about individual UD students. As noted in a Feb. 27  article in The University News, students at the University of Notre Dame recently petitioned their administration for a similar Wi-Fi filter. Despite receiving 1,000 student signatures, the now months-old petition has received little attention and no action from the Notre Dame administration.

Notre Dame’s inaction, though it is disappointing, gives UD an opportunity to distinguish itself.

Notre Dame’s internet policy, just like UD’s, declares that the university is wholly opposed to students accessing pornography on campus Wi-Fi. However, Notre Dame has clearly failed to act in support of its words.

Now that the filter is being discussed, we in the UD community have a decision to make: we can demonstrate a superior commitment to human dignity, or we can follow Notre Dame’s precedent of inaction.

Despite the numerous benefits of the filter, several students have voiced legitimate concerns over both the legality and practicality of a filter.

UD is well within its rights to place a filter on the campus Wi-Fi. As a private institution, UD reserves the right to restrict internet access through university-provided Wi-Fi.

This is especially true because a filter would only enforce an agreement that students sign in the student handbook pledging not to use campus facilities to access illicit or obscene material.

Additionally, internet filters are more common than many students realize. Many private businesses use filters in the workplace to prevent their employees from wasting time on social media sites. They can legally do this as private institutions because their employees sign an agreement, just like the agreement in UD’s student handbook.

Whether or not such a filter would be effective, or reasonably applied, is a fair concern. Many students point out that anyone determined to access pornography can use their cellular data instead of campus Wi-Fi.

While this is true, I do not find it a persuasive objection. Even if the filter is not completely effective, it will certainly make it harder for students to access porn.

By instituting the filter, the university would be refusing to enable porn users through its Wi-Fi, and to that end the filter still achieves its goal.

Some raise objections to the filter because it could potentially block some harmless sites in addition to the explicit websites, by using generic keywords to detect obscene material.

They argue that this could potentially impact students’ ability to do their research or access news or social media websites.

Filter services sought out by the university ought to be ones proven to be capable of discerning the differences between explicit content and innocent sites.

We should explore the options available and institute a trial run of whatever software we end up choosing. If the filter is too restrictive, then it can simply be removed.

Giving this option a chance would demonstrate the university’s commitment to making every reasonable effort to promote the welfare of our community and stand up for the dignity of the human body.

As Vice-President of the Society of St. Joseph, a sophomore representative in student government, but more importantly, as a Catholic man, I fully support and endorse the proposal to implement an internet filter.

I encourage others to voice their support as well.

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