Banning websites on school computers

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Banning websites on school computers

Post by SeiUsa » Tue Jul 24, 2007 12:07 am

My friend and I were talking about this the other day. We talked about how our high school banned certain websites on their computers, and although we were annoyed at the time it was probably for the best.
And now our college is talking about banning websites such as MySpace and Yahoo to save on bandwith. A lot of people are complaining, saying things like, "We pay to go here and pay for the computers so we should be allowed those websites!"
What do you think? I think it's a good idea for high school, and college is no exception. We pay to go there and LEARN, not comment on other people's pics and check e-mail. Too many people use the computers for personal use when others could be using it for educational purposes. Plus, by banning them it could reduce the temptation to browse them when they should be researching.

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Post by Rin » Tue Jul 24, 2007 1:53 am

Personally, I wouldn't mind them banning websites like facebook or myspace, and even Youtube.

I am a commuter and sometimes I need to get to school early to finish a paper, or just to print one out because my computer was being stupid the day before. It is very annoying to go into the commuter computer room, which is supposed to only be used for school related things, and too see that all of the computers are taken and half the people are visiting facebook, myspace, or some kind of forum. Something they can wait to do at home. It's even more annoying because they can go to the front desk and borrow a lap top for free as long as they can present their student ID.
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Post by Neon Heart » Tue Jul 24, 2007 11:06 am

It never bothered me that certain websites were banned from school computers. In the computer room, the purpose is to research, do your work, and get a good grade. Not to goof off and miss the assignment completely. Although it's our loss if we fail an assignment, the school is still partly responsible for what we search for, online.


(Although it's interesting. My friend told me, that while her class was in the computer room during school, Myspace was banned from the computer, yet the guy next to her accessed a porno site with no problem.)
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Post by Tiff » Tue Jul 24, 2007 1:45 pm

Neon Heart wrote:It never bothered me that certain websites were banned from school computers. In the computer room, the purpose is to research, do your work, and get a good grade. Not to goof off and miss the assignment completely. Although it's our loss if we fail an assignment, the school is still partly responsible for what we search for, online.

You said it exactly right, Neon Heart. Computer labs aren't meant for ZOMG THE INTERNETZ, they're meant for research and completion of assignments. they're meant to be used as school resources, not for entertainment. that's what a personal computer is for.

Although, they need to work on their filters...oftentimes, a site you NEED cannot be brought up, while random www.hornydonkeys.com is running perfectly fine.

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Post by the*blue*girl » Tue Jul 24, 2007 5:07 pm

I agree with banning in high school for all the same reasons you guys said. School comptors should be used for school. College though, I don't know. You would hope that adults are mature enough not to use school resources like that, but then again, I'm not in college, so I wouldn't really know.
Neon Heart wrote: Although it's interesting. My friend told me, that while her class was in the computer room during school, Myspace was banned from the computer, yet the guy next to her accessed a porno site with no problem.
*nodnod* The guy next to me did that too :roll:

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Post by Jeff » Tue Jul 24, 2007 5:15 pm

It's rather pointless. MySpace was blocked at my community college and I easily got around it.

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Post by jupiter23 » Tue Jul 24, 2007 5:34 pm

the*blue*girl wrote:I agree with banning in high school for all the same reasons you guys said. School comptors should be used for school. College though, I don't know. You would hope that adults are mature enough not to use school resources like that, but then again, I'm not in college, so I wouldn't really know.
You'd be surprised at how many college students act like they're still in high school.

As far as internet banning in college, the school I went to had a separate computer lab just for people to do whatever on the internet. All the other labs were for either class use (in the case of the computer classes) or research use (such as in the library and the science buildings.) There were places all over campus that had wireless access available for those that had laptops. I think a lot of campuses should move to this if they haven't already. That would free up the labs for those who need to do actual work.
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Post by Sailormars Obsessed fan » Tue Jul 24, 2007 7:49 pm

My old college had a pretty good method, they had one big lab where you could surf the net, and a big one where you couldnt and a few smaller ones of each.
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Post by Tiff » Tue Jul 24, 2007 10:12 pm

the*blue*girl wrote:I agree with banning in high school for all the same reasons you guys said. School comptors should be used for school. College though, I don't know. You would hope that adults are mature enough not to use school resources like that, but then again, I'm not in college, so I wouldn't really know.
That's the thing though..."you would hope". Unfortunately, that's not usually the case. A lot of college students act like they're still idiots in high school, and they definitely don't act responsbility and maturely.

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Post by peachvampiress » Wed Jul 25, 2007 12:54 am

Tiff
A lot of college students act like they're still idiots in high school, and they definitely don't act responsbility and maturely.
Hell, a lot of people past college age still act like idiots in High School -_-

Yes, I agree with banning sites like the above mentioned. Students don't need to waste time and bandwidth on their myspace pages however


SeiUsa
banning websites such as MySpace and Yahoo
Yahoo? How would they do a search? Although I guess Google would be a good alternative since it's a search engine with a simple layout and none of the crap that yahoo has.
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Post by yoshmaster5 » Wed Jul 25, 2007 2:01 pm

At my school, the only thing that bugs me is they're massive Anti-game, anything...

I can understand banning GFaqs, but I think they might have banned Serebii.net, which to me makes no sense because it's cleaner than google.

For High School, ban Facebook, Myspace, any of that stuff. And set Google strictly on the highest-level search filter... that eliminates the problem that Google Images causes. Either way... it's fine in high School. once you get to college... no. don't ban it, no matter how bad teh sites are... because you shouldn't control it anymore. The students are adults, so they are now able to make their own decisions... even if they're completely moronic or plain idiotic. (As in... branding youself. X_x;)
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Post by Tiff » Wed Jul 25, 2007 3:56 pm

yoshmaster5 wrote: once you get to college... no. don't ban it, no matter how bad teh sites are... because you shouldn't control it anymore. The students are adults, so they are now able to make their own decisions... even if they're completely moronic or plain idiotic. (As in... branding youself. X_x;)
It's not a matter of "can they make their own decisions". It's a matter of this is SCHOOL PROPERTY, and they are meant to be used for research. If someone wants to be super adult and access porn sites, they can do it on their own pc, in their dorm/apt/home. I don't need to ese someone else's fetish while I'm trying to finish an assignment in the computer lab. So they're adults and can make their own decisions...does that mean they should be allowed to smoke pot in the college courtyard? Pop open a bud light in the middle of class?

Like it or not, University is still an institution with rules, and it's an institution of LEARNING, not a free for all.

Also, when so many of these websites are accessed, it can lead to viruses and problems on the school computers, which only serves to slow me down when I come along and try to do my schoolwork. Many times in college, I attempted to use a school computer and was slowed by all the junk that was put onto the computers by people who "wanted to be adults".

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Post by yoshmaster5 » Wed Jul 25, 2007 4:25 pm

What i meant with College, and not blocking sites... is for personal computers. For lab computers, block away.
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Post by Tiff » Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:30 pm

yoshmaster5 wrote:What i meant with College, and not blocking sites... is for personal computers. For lab computers, block away.
o.O okay, i've NEVER heard of a college blocking somebody's dorm computer. Hell, I know for a fact when Derek lived in the dorms, I went to many a porn site, myspace, journals, etc.

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Post by Gamer8585 » Thu Jul 26, 2007 11:29 pm

I've never really heard a good argument for blocking websites. The two basic arguments are that 1) School computers are for learning and working only, and 2) Surfing the web can allow malware to be dropped on the PC, at best only using up more resources (processor cycles, memory, etc.) and at worst compromise network security, and/or make the computer (and possibly the network) part of a larger botnet.

The second problem can be solved though simple network security procedures and common sense from the network administrator. For example: "Write" permission being restricted to admin accounts only (the exception being for internet temp files and student network space). No "root" accesses for anyone but the admins. Constantly updated antivirus and antispy programs. Well maintained hardware firewall. As you can see these measures will stop all but the most determined professional hacker, and should be a part of general network security anyway.

The first problem is a lot tricker because instead of a practical problem it relies on an ethical perspective. While it is true that the computers are provided for advancement of ones academic studies, schools themselves are much more then the sum of their individual curricula. They are institutions of learning that go beyond the structured environments of fact and theory. They are a place of socialization where children learn to interact with their peers, and experience some of the trials of life while still in a relitively consequence free environment.

Technology is now a part of life today, and so is the internet. The great thing is that the internet is the perfect academic tool; it promotes the free exchange of idea's without regard to status. Everyone's voice can be heard and its easy to move from one voice to another so no one is necessarily "drowned out in the commotion." Sites like Myspace, and YouTube may not have a benefit to the assigned tasks, however these are new ways of group interaction and expression that are a part of the world we live in and the precursor to the next step in information dissemination. Children, I argue, must be allowed to fully use and understand these new mediums during their free time if they so choose.

The job of a school is to facilitate learning about one's environment not restrict it. Remember if you want to filter content you must put someone in charge of filtering and then you leave it to that person's own passions of "right and wrong" to determine what can be and not be shown, and if their is going to be any conflict the filter can simply pigeonhole a site into an "unacceptable" category, which the students can do little about. For example if there are video's on YouTube that the filter finds offensive to his/her political beliefs he/she can block all video sharing sites under the "Adult Content" category. Students wouldn't be able to rectify this injustice (at least not though the standard channels of protest), and the staff would have little reason to act since it most likely won't affect their curriculum.

By allowing the restricted flow of information you open the door to brainwashing and indoctrination. While the most extreme examples (Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, etc.) can show the end result of such an attitude little is paid attention to the smaller effects of information restriction by filters in schools, on the developing human psyche. Essentially it fosters an environment of distrust and hostility between students and staff, for even young students know that the filters go against the most fundamental academic principle: the competition of ideas.

For High Schools they are a part of the state and as such should not be participating in the violation of the Constitutional guarantee of free speech (although courts have ruled that School administrators have the legal right to control the information on school grounds, I find it ethically suspect and anathema to the profession).

For colleges it is: 1) contrary to their mission (the environment to experiment to increase a students personal body of knowledge of the world around him/her), 2) Contrary to the open way they have operated for millennia, and 3) Quite stupid economicly, because filtering would devalue their service and cause many students to seek out other colleges without the filters.

Finally I'd like to address a common concern, that of students using academic computers for personal entertainment, while another may need it for work. This, while serious, may not be effectively answered by filters. Students are their usually because they are board, and if one web site is blocked they will find another that isn't. The only way to solve this is: 1) cut off all internet access (not exactly a palatable option), 2) Constant monitoring by staff of every persons activities on the computer and the removal of an entertainment user, when a work user needs a computer (neither palatable nor logistically reasonable), or 3) Courtesy education starting at a young age. If people can learn to think about others it will make them more inclined to give up their seat, also there should be little reminders around the computer labs asking people to be mindful of people that need to do work, and the staff member that's monitoring the labs should ask the room for someone to give up their seat if someone needs to use a computer for class work (I find most people to be very understanding if they are made aware that someone is there to work).

Sorry, for the length of this rant.
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Post by Starscream » Fri Jul 27, 2007 6:42 am

Gamer8585 wrote:I've never really heard a good argument for blocking websites. The two basic arguments are that 1) School computers are for learning and working only, and 2) Surfing the web can allow malware to be dropped on the PC, at best only using up more resources (processor cycles, memory, etc.) and at worst compromise network security, and/or make the computer (and possibly the network) part of a larger botnet.

The second problem can be solved though simple network security procedures and common sense from the network administrator. For example: "Write" permission being restricted to admin accounts only (the exception being for internet temp files and student network space). No "root" accesses for anyone but the admins. Constantly updated antivirus and antispy programs. Well maintained hardware firewall. As you can see these measures will stop all but the most determined professional hacker, and should be a part of general network security anyway.

The first problem is a lot tricker because instead of a practical problem it relies on an ethical perspective. While it is true that the computers are provided for advancement of ones academic studies, schools themselves are much more then the sum of their individual curricula. They are institutions of learning that go beyond the structured environments of fact and theory. They are a place of socialization where children learn to interact with their peers, and experience some of the trials of life while still in a relitively consequence free environment.

Technology is now a part of life today, and so is the internet. The great thing is that the internet is the perfect academic tool; it promotes the free exchange of idea's without regard to status. Everyone's voice can be heard and its easy to move from one voice to another so no one is necessarily "drowned out in the commotion." Sites like Myspace, and YouTube may not have a benefit to the assigned tasks, however these are new ways of group interaction and expression that are a part of the world we live in and the precursor to the next step in information dissemination. Children, I argue, must be allowed to fully use and understand these new mediums during their free time if they so choose.

The job of a school is to facilitate learning about one's environment not restrict it. Remember if you want to filter content you must put someone in charge of filtering and then you leave it to that person's own passions of "right and wrong" to determine what can be and not be shown, and if their is going to be any conflict the filter can simply pigeonhole a site into an "unacceptable" category, which the students can do little about. For example if there are video's on YouTube that the filter finds offensive to his/her political beliefs he/she can block all video sharing sites under the "Adult Content" category. Students wouldn't be able to rectify this injustice (at least not though the standard channels of protest), and the staff would have little reason to act since it most likely won't affect their curriculum.

By allowing the restricted flow of information you open the door to brainwashing and indoctrination. While the most extreme examples (Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, etc.) can show the end result of such an attitude little is paid attention to the smaller effects of information restriction by filters in schools, on the developing human psyche. Essentially it fosters an environment of distrust and hostility between students and staff, for even young students know that the filters go against the most fundamental academic principle: the competition of ideas.

For High Schools they are a part of the state and as such should not be participating in the violation of the Constitutional guarantee of free speech (although courts have ruled that School administrators have the legal right to control the information on school grounds, I find it ethically suspect and anathema to the profession).

For colleges it is: 1) contrary to their mission (the environment to experiment to increase a students personal body of knowledge of the world around him/her), 2) Contrary to the open way they have operated for millennia, and 3) Quite stupid economicly, because filtering would devalue their service and cause many students to seek out other colleges without the filters.

Finally I'd like to address a common concern, that of students using academic computers for personal entertainment, while another may need it for work. This, while serious, may not be effectively answered by filters. Students are their usually because they are board, and if one web site is blocked they will find another that isn't. The only way to solve this is: 1) cut off all internet access (not exactly a palatable option), 2) Constant monitoring by staff of every persons activities on the computer and the removal of an entertainment user, when a work user needs a computer (neither palatable nor logistically reasonable), or 3) Courtesy education starting at a young age. If people can learn to think about others it will make them more inclined to give up their seat, also there should be little reminders around the computer labs asking people to be mindful of people that need to do work, and the staff member that's monitoring the labs should ask the room for someone to give up their seat if someone needs to use a computer for class work (I find most people to be very understanding if they are made aware that someone is there to work).

Sorry, for the length of this rant.
Your entire argument is based around the assumption that there is a universal set of ethics to which universities and high-schools should apply with regards to allowing access to or restricting information, a logical fallacy in of itself. But I'd like to tackle your argument anyways.

Let me preface that not all high schools are public ones; indeed, there are many private high schools out there, and since they are NOT run by the government, they needn't adhere to the First Amendment right to free speech.

Now onto the matter of education as a method of "exploring" new educational avenues. There is a rhyme and reason behind everything, and the reason that the majority of schools (both secondary and at the college/university level) run things the way they do is because it's effective. There are still structured class schedules, still a specific syllabus that must be followed, specific hours to those classes, and so forth. I will submit that as we age and mature we should be more accepting of various innovations in society, and the computer is surely one of the greatest of these. NEVERTHELESS, most educational institutions still adhere to a formulaic method of imparting education, and while students are very welcome to take advantage of their environments when they can, the school's time and resources SHOULD be utilized the way the school intends them. There is no universal set of ethics that overrides what a university or high school can and cannot allow in terms of "broadening" one's educational experiences. The resources they provide are done so under the knowledge that they are the SCHOOL'S resources, and so long as the student uses them, they must follow the school's guidelines.

Now, what a student does on his or her own time is up to them. I'm against putting filters on dorm room internet access, because while the dorms are school property, it is not time the university is using, nor is the computer a resource the university owns. If the student wants to take a trip to another country to explore it, then by all means, he is allowed to do so. But university computers, and especially high school computers, are property of the school, and if they so feel that the content should be restricted, then so be it. They are educational aides in the strictest sense, and should only be used for research purposes.

I also take objection to this notion that MySpace, Friendster, and the like are valuable to building relationships and group interactions. The whole PURPOSE of going to high school or college is to meet new people, interact in a new environment, and foster new and exciting relationships. Joining a place like MySpace for the sole purpose of interacting with others defeats the intention of joining a university; you already have a new social environment waiting for you out there!

And finally:
Gamer8585 wrote:3) Quite stupid economicly, because filtering would devalue their service and cause many students to seek out other colleges without the filters.
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Post by Gamer8585 » Fri Jul 27, 2007 5:04 pm

Thanks for taking the time to respond, and so I shall do likewise.
Starscream wrote: Your entire argument is based around the assumption that there is a universal set of ethics to which universities and high-schools should apply with regards to allowing access to or restricting information, a logical fallacy in of itself. But I'd like to tackle your argument anyways.
The idea that there is a universal set of ethics (in any field) is not a logical fallacy, rather its a matter of perspective that is subject to debate. I do think that there is are proper ethical standards that teachers should follow to allow their students minds to grow. The corner stone of which is the concept of "the market place of ideas."
Let me preface that not all high schools are public ones; indeed, there are many private high schools out there, and since they are NOT run by the government, they needn't adhere to the First Amendment right to free speech.
I agree with you that private schools are exempt from constitutional considerations of free speech, because they are privately owned and can set whatever rules they like. However since most High Schools are public ones I thought my arguments should use the public education system for the paradigm.
Now onto the matter of education as a method of "exploring" new educational avenues. There is a rhyme and reason behind everything, and the reason that the majority of schools (both secondary and at the college/university level) run things the way they do is because it's effective. There are still structured class schedules, still a specific syllabus that must be followed, specific hours to those classes, and so forth. I will submit that as we age and mature we should be more accepting of various innovations in society, and the computer is surely one of the greatest of these. NEVERTHELESS, most educational institutions still adhere to a formulaic method of imparting education, and while students are very welcome to take advantage of their environments when they can, the school's time and resources SHOULD be utilized the way the school intends them. There is no universal set of ethics that overrides what a university or high school can and cannot allow in terms of "broadening" one's educational experiences. The resources they provide are done so under the knowledge that they are the SCHOOL'S resources, and so long as the student uses them, they must follow the school's guidelines.
Ah, an argument getting to the heart of the matter. While schools do things in a manner that they believe is effective process is as important if not more so. For example corporal punishment has been outlawed in public schools, not because it wasn't effective, but because it is morally repugnant. Teacher's aren't allowed to carry guns in class (even in dangerous schools), because it is ethically objectionable, not because it wouldn't keep order. Also, the school dose not own the computer, the state dose. And since we live in a democracy (Demos=People, Kratos=Rule) it is the citizens who own the computers and is up to them to govern how they want the computers to be used. Also, since the students are the ones effected by the use of the computers, they should have an equal say in rules that are imposed on them (at least it would teach them about civic responsibility).
Now, what a student does on his or her own time is up to them. I'm against putting filters on dorm room internet access, because while the dorms are school property, it is not time the university is using, nor is the computer a resource the university owns. If the student wants to take a trip to another country to explore it, then by all means, he is allowed to do so.
Agreed.
But university computers, and especially high school computers, are property of the school, and if they so feel that the content should be restricted, then so be it. They are educational aides in the strictest sense, and should only be used for research purposes.
I've already made my case about ownership of public resources above.
I also take objection to this notion that MySpace, Friendster, and the like are valuable to building relationships and group interactions. The whole PURPOSE of going to high school or college is to meet new people, interact in a new environment, and foster new and exciting relationships. Joining a place like MySpace for the sole purpose of interacting with others defeats the intention of joining a university; you already have a new social environment waiting for you out there!
I wasn't trying to make the case that these should replace the person-to-person socializing environment of the schools. Rather I wanted to make the argument that students need the freedom to acclimate themselves to this new medium. Even though the sites have no overt value academically, familiarizing one's self with the technology and rules of conduct can be very valuable later in life, not only for the services as they are now, but the future one's to come. You do not want to be playing catchup with tech, especially with Moore's Law in play.
And finally:
Gamer8585 wrote:3) Quite stupid economicly, because filtering would devalue their service and cause many students to seek out other colleges without the filters.
Any student who passes up an education at a prestigious university for a mediocre one simply because of its internet filters really needs to get his priorities in order.
You do realize that they would not necessarily have to pass up a prestigious school for a mediocre one. They can just look for another equally prestigious school that doesn't filter. Also, if my view of academic ethics is correct there is no way any prestigious university (Harvard, Yale, etc.) would use filters.
Last edited by Gamer8585 on Fri Jul 27, 2007 8:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by DreamEmpress » Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:36 pm

wow, there's a long debate... Seems this issue has only grown since I last went to college. *sigh* I admit, I used the school library computers for no real purpose when I was about 19/20 years old. At that time my family didn't have a computer, so checking email and such was done at school or the public library. But I always tried to do it when there wasn't a high demand for the time. In other words, if the computers started to fill up, I quickly got off so someone else could use it. Not that this is excusable in any way. In fact, if I knew then what I know now, I'd have limited my computer time at school considerably.

Banning feels like a no win situation. Schools want their students to be able to learn and use available resources to expand possiblities. Unfortunately as the world of the internet expands and grows, we find more things to do on it than just research. It's easy to click and seek out new things, so to speak. When they try to cut back on some of the things students can access so that they can stay focused on education, they are seen as denying freedom and such. But if they allow just anything and everything they are seen as being far too lenient and wasting funding. There's got to be a middle ground.

Personally, I think there are some things that should be limited. Like in high school. I do believe any content not intended for minors is obviously off limits. Things such as myspace and such are really best left at home. First off, there's limited time as it is in school and secondly, you have more privacy. As for college, I know we're all supposed to be adults, but there's such a thing as common curtsy. Lab and library computers are shared resources. Things that are more private are best left to one's own computer. Whereas things such as research and assignments aren't. Now I know we say that we pay for tutition and we have rights, but we're not the only ones who use computers. The schools are allowing everyone this privilege. Note key words here.

I think Tiff said it best. Schools have rules and they are there for a reason. Libraries, work places, ect. all have rules too for using their resources.

*sigh* yeah I know that it's amazing what you can find on computers with bans and restictions. When I was in 12th grade, my friend was trying to do research on breast cancer. Couldn't get past the filters. She had to do research elsewhere. A while later, another friend of mine was able to get into some top government stuff (until they booted her out) while another friend was sitting next to her and accessing a porn site. We didn't notice him doing that for a bit and then told him to shut it off before we got in trouble. It never ceases to amaze me. Frankly I feel that before we ban things completely, we need to first work on the filter system. That way we're not being ridiculous.

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Post by Banana » Sun Oct 07, 2007 1:28 pm

I don't agree with it. If people want to goof off on the comp, that's their problem and their grade. And besides, some live far away from their family and the only thing they can do is e-amil so they should be given a chance to do so.

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Post by Tiff » Sun Oct 07, 2007 2:07 pm

Banana wrote:I don't agree with it. If people want to goof off on the comp, that's their problem and their grade. And besides, some live far away from their family and the only thing they can do is e-amil so they should be given a chance to do so.
Not when it's SCHOOL PROPERTY and the school has the right to deem what that property is to be used for.

A personal computer in a dorm is one thing..and again, we've already established that schools (to my knowledge anyway) don't block what you do on your own comp in your own dorm. I remember Derek downloading porn all the time on his dorm comp, becuase it was HIS.

But in a COMPUTER LAB, you're there to use the computer for school business. Downloading porn or music or watching offensive flash videos is not what you're there for. Do that shit on your own time, on your own property.

And please. If they live far away, and don't have their own computer on which to email, they have this thing nowadays that one can buy...it's called paper and pen. You know, the thing one can write letters with? And there's also this amazing invention that Alexander Graham Bell came up with...

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