Re-evaluate the web filter system at BSM

editorial staff

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Students are tired of the over-zealous Barracuda web filter. We can’t consistently access our e-mail. We can’t get on to news sites. We can’t get on to sites that touch on controversial topics. We need to re-evaluate the filtering system since the one in place undermines the central purpose of having the Internet.

We try to print papers off our e-mail before class in the library, but the Barracuda filtering system blocks us from reaching the site and handing in the paper on time. If we need to research the negative effects of marijuana for a health class project, we can’t find any credible information since all sites we need are blocked. We try to read the day’s news but find that many news sites are off limits.

Filtering the school’s Internet is not accomplishing anything; it’s only constricting the informative Web sites students could be using while doing research. Thus, the purpose of blocking sites missed the mark and did more harm than good.

When we talk about unblocking sites, we’re not talking about Facebook and we’re not talking about Sparknotes.

Here are just a few examples of legitimate sites that are blocked: Atrios.com and slate.com, both news and discussion sites. Also, google images blocked the search of Napolean in a history class, and the site moviephoto.com is categorized as “adult.” Blocking GLBT sites narrows our perspectives and implies that communities outside of ours are illegitmate or dangerous.

Shutting us off from radical groups’ Web sites does not do a great service to the student body. It insults our maturity and our ability to make independent decisions. The school can’t protect us against radical ideas, but through our learning experiences, we can look at these sites and make educated decisions on them. Although we can’t reach the KKK home page, we are able to visit www.tgia.net, a Web site dedicated to supporting white supremacy.

The Barracuda filtering system is random and undependable––if you want to block web sites that deal with “intolerance and hate,” block them all and be consistent.

The Culinary Institute is blocked, categorized under “Job Search and Career Development.” Students in art classes can’t get to sites with paintings, drawing, or photos on them. Comics, humor, and jokes are blocked, College Humor being deemed as “tasteless and offensive.” Really? Tasteless? Who can judge something like that for all of us?

It doesn’t work to group Web sites in such broad categories as “news groups and forums,” “intolerance and hate,” “job search and career development,” as there is such diversity of sites under each category. This system that Barracuda uses to block sites is inadequate and a main source of the problem.

When it comes to technicality issues, we understand that our bandwidth cannot handle the videos on YouTube, but blocking almost every Web site is not a logical way to get around this issue.

If the administration switched companies or further specified the categories in order to block less sites, students would be more inclined to use the school’s Internet and could get things done while using it.

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