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Illinois University Restricts Access To Social Media, Online Political Content

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the teach-the-controversy dept.

Censorship 130

onproton writes Northern Illinois University recently began restricting student access to web pages that contain "illegal or unethical" content which, according to University policy, includes resources used for "political activities...and the organization or participation in meetings, rallies and demonstrations." A student raised concerns after attempting to access the Wikipedia page for Westboro Baptist Church, and receiving a filter message informing him that his access of this page would likely violate the University's Acceptable Use Policy, along with a warning that "all violations would be reviewed." This has lead to questions about whether some policies that restrict student access to information are in the best interest of the primary goal of education.

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More about Indoctrination (5, Insightful)

jasonrice22 (3458571) | about 2 months ago | (#47733579)

Perhaps it is because the university is more about indoctrination than education.

Re:More about Indoctrination (1, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 months ago | (#47733737)

Perhaps it is because all universities are more about indoctrination than education.

Fixed that for you.

Re:More about Indoctrination (4, Funny)

fightinfilipino (1449273) | about 2 months ago | (#47733905)

Perhaps it is because some universities are more about indoctrination than education.

Fixed that for you.

only a Sith deals in absolutes.

Re:More about Indoctrination (4, Funny)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 months ago | (#47734003)

I never realised how ironic/hypocritical that statement was until now.

Re:More about Indoctrination (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734057)

I tried to see if that was true, but my university won't let me visit any of the websites that talk about it :(

Re:More about Indoctrination (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734603)

Only some Siths deal in absolutes.

(That makes me a real non-Sith, because I didn't *absolutely* state that *all* who deal in absolutes are Siths, that itself an absolute statement making one unable to make it (being a Sith and all) )

Re:More about Indoctrination (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734801)

I didn't *absolutely* state that *all* who deal in absolutes are Siths

And neither did Obi-Wan. It's all about context. He was talking to a fellow force user, Anakin. Ergo, Obi-Wan was stating that, among force users, those who deal in absolutes are Sith, not that everyone who deals in absolutes is a Sith.

Re:More about Indoctrination (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47736039)

> Only some Siths deal in absolutes.

No true Sith deals only in absolutes!

Re:More about Indoctrination (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 months ago | (#47734037)

That may be true but it is this particular University that is making the situation painfully obvious today.

Re:More about Indoctrination (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734727)

You're a conservative victim, aren't you? With such a chip on your shoulder about higher ed, bet you're an evangelical Christian.

Re:More about Indoctrination (1)

ArmoredDragon (3450605) | about a month ago | (#47735183)

So only conservatives are supposed to have freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and the like?

Re:More about Indoctrination (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733915)

Our internet usage policy at the labs was ANYTHING that is legal, including porn. You did get told got to a corner and turn your monitor as not to offend anyone with your fetishes. The stories the lab assistants told. Labs were also open to the public, you just had to register and have proof of local permanent residency, and you got booted if a student needed a spot. Any punishment the University could dole out, including expulsion, was able to be overruled by a jury of students, so long as it wasn't over anything illegal by law or not paying your tuition. Very liberal and democratic. The student government had the power to block renovations and new buildings being built. They have a lot of say in the Universities finances, including raising funds from alumni and having new buildings built.

The student body as a whole had roughly equal power to the management, but everyone was respectful of their duties. I enjoyed working there as a student employee. Administration people were very nice, teachers were nice, co-workers were nice, students were nice. It was a great time.

I have two words to describe this policy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734217)

Bovine excrement.

You cannot be surprised? (2, Insightful)

hackus (159037) | about 2 months ago | (#47734357)

Anyone who is stupid enough to pay a University via a banker to become "institutionalized" deserves exactly what they get.

In the age of the internet, if you have to pay someone to sit you in a room and teach you like a trained monkey you have serious problems that go way beyond education.

Universities are sort of like the last DINO's that hung around after the big rock thing from the sky happened. In this case the rock is the formation of the modern internet.

I would pay about $500 bucks for a Bachelors degree, max for the outside chance a University actually provided something I can't do myself with a Internet connection.

You cannot be surprised? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47734883)

That's a stupid thing to say, and you're a stupid person for saying it.

Re:You cannot be surprised? (3, Interesting)

ArmoredDragon (3450605) | about a month ago | (#47735211)

In the age of the internet, if you have to pay someone to sit you in a room and teach you like a trained monkey you have serious problems that go way beyond education.

I'll actually say that's quite wrong. At least it is for me anyways. I actually learned networking from the Cisco Network Academy at my local community college. The teachers there combined their literally decades of field experience with Cisco's curriculum, and I can honestly say just from that alone I probably know more than some of the people I've worked with in the past who themselves have been in their jobs for decades, and are where they are from learning it the way you describe...in fact some of the things I've seen some people do wrong are just downright scary from a security perspective.

Now if you want to make that argument about typical schools with high tuition rates, there's a ring of truth to it. I don't know why, but I often find that the more people spend on their education, the worse it is. There are outliers of course, but it tends to be the rule that if you paid a lot for your education, then you paid too much.

Re:You cannot be surprised? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a month ago | (#47735281)

In the age of the internet, if you have to pay someone to sit you in a room and teach you like a trained monkey you have serious problems that go way beyond education.

I went to college to meet chicks.

Re:You cannot be surprised? (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about a month ago | (#47735603)

In the age of the internet, if you have to pay someone to sit you in a room and teach you like a trained monkey you have serious problems that go way beyond education.

I went to college to meet chicks.

"If you want to to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library." - Frank Zappa

"Where's the college library?"

Strat

Re:You cannot be surprised? (2)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a month ago | (#47736135)

Which is why I want my doctors to be solely educated by google! And the folks who build the planes and cars I ride in.

Re:You cannot be surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47736367)

An Ivy League University provides you with daily opportunities to meet and get drunk with some of the wealthiest and best-connected kids in the country. The people that go there are future leaders of mega corporations, politicians, and the like. The connections you form with them will provide you with employment opportunities that you could never get by any other means.

Your self-education on the Internet may give you knowledge, but there is no way that liking people on Facebook compares to this.

vote with your wallet (1)

mindcandy (1252124) | about 2 months ago | (#47734579)

Universities (including the public ones) are a business like any other and are highly sensitive to voting with one's wallet.

At the one I work at we actually go to great lengths *not* to monitor, record, or police what students do beyond what's needed to keep the peace.
we also invite students to bring their game consoles in after major releases so we can fine tune stuff to ensure decent latency.

tl;dr somebody is having power trip there and/or just bought a shiny new piece of oppressionware and checked all the boxes.

More about Indoctrination (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47735841)

Perhaps it is because the university is more about indoctrination than education.

Universities have become corporate-training facilities in the eyes of CEOs. Education and knowledge are the anti-thesis of the desired drone workforce. Have you been to an interview recently? Employers want degreed workforce earning minimum wage.

Re:More about Indoctrination (1)

SpockLogic (1256972) | about a month ago | (#47736003)

Perhaps it is because the university is more about indoctrination than education.

This reeks of the university administration imposing a policy that the faculty and students will ultimately defeat.

Tor... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733585)

For however many years freedom has left.

Graduate Students.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733587)

Well, that's one place I won't be applying for graduate school. Although NIU sounds like a fly by night school anyway... It's UI-UC that's on my radar.

Re:Graduate Students.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734219)

Yeah, it's a joke of a school in the middle of a corn field.

could've sworn this was not the case (3, Informative)

MoFoQ (584566) | about 2 months ago | (#47733597)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... [huffingtonpost.com]

Supposedly the policy applies to employees not students.

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (3, Funny)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 2 months ago | (#47733605)

Because an institution of higher learning prefers its workers to be dumb and uninformed.

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733659)

I think they would be dumber if they're allowed access to the web site of the organization that the Democrat Fred Phelps created. The school is doing them a favor by blocking it.

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (2)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 2 months ago | (#47734083)

They blocked the Wikipedia page about the church which is mostly a detailed list of their bigoted views and activities. It isn't illegal or unethical to learn about hateful people. Should they also erase Hitler from history too?

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47734889)

They blocked the Wikipedia page about the church which is mostly a detailed list of their bigoted views and activities. It isn't illegal or unethical to learn about hateful people. Should they also erase Hitler from history too?

Why get your butthole all knotted up over this? They do a REVIEW of the content. However this is completely illegal, it is a first amendment violation, but if your smart enough (after all your suppose to be somewhat smart if your in college) you would go off campus to do whatever research you want.

I would have to wonder if this is related to corporate sponsorship, god forbid they get their asshole knotted up over how the colleges image would look if someone studies about Hitler, or some bigoted Church, considering how unethical corporations are themselves. Or other students that have their assholes knotted up because they found another student studying or just reading something out of curiosity.

Simply said the colleges are trying to save face.

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about a month ago | (#47735845)

you would go off campus to do whatever research you want.

You do realize what a completely inane comment that is.

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47736079)

> They blocked the Wikipedia page about the church which is mostly a detailed list of their bigoted views and activities.

I know, right? It's Wikipedia, FFS... why didn't they just change the article to something they find more acceptable? Certainly if they feel entitled to "cleanse" the Web for students, faculty and staff, it must be for the greater good to cleanse it for everyone in the world?

(Tap tap tap... there. Now the article just says "Fred Phelps was a heckuva guy.")

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (1, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about 2 months ago | (#47734143)

"Because an institution of higher learning prefers its workers to be dumb and uninformed"

No...because an employer pays for their employee's Internet access so they can do the employer's business. It's not like there aren't multiple ways to access the Internet.

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 2 months ago | (#47734363)

"Because an institution of higher learning prefers its workers to be dumb and uninformed"

No...because an employer pays for their employee's Internet access so they can do the employer's business. It's not like there aren't multiple ways to access the Internet.

In other words people will switch to using smartphones and tablets to access Facebook, Wikipedia, politically correct websites, etc... and nothing really changes. Censorship is a game of Whac-A-Mole that the censors will always loose.

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (1)

penix1 (722987) | about a month ago | (#47735691)

"Because an institution of higher learning prefers its workers to be dumb and uninformed"

No...because an employer pays for their employee's Internet access so they can do the employer's business. It's not like there aren't multiple ways to access the Internet.

In other words people will switch to using smartphones and tablets to access Facebook, Wikipedia, politically correct websites, etc... and nothing really changes. Censorship is a game of Whac-A-Mole that the censors will always loose.

It depends on the goal of the censorship. If the goal is to prevent you from ever accessing the restricted content, then you are correct. On the other hand if the goal is to prevent you from using my network to access it, then they certainly can do that.

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (5, Informative)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 2 months ago | (#47733625)

That's the schools PR spin, but it's undermined by the fact the policy itself [niu.edu] specifically says it applies to students:

Northern Illinois University information technology resources, including the electronic communications network (NIUnet) on the NIU campus and off-campus education and research centers, computers attached to this network, and any associated computational resource or service are for the use of persons affiliated with Northern Illinois University, including faculty, staff, emeritus personnel, and students in good standing. Information technology resources are provided by the university to further the university's mission of research, instruction, and public service. The use of these resources should be consistent with this mission, this policy, and the University’s other use, security policies, and other applicable regulations including the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (SOEEA). Pursuant to the NIU Electronic Mail policy, the email system may be utilized for personal messages subject to the limitations set forth in these and other applicable policies and to the extent that personal usage does not interfere with assigned responsibilities. By using NIU services, all individuals, including, but not limited to, employees, students, customers, volunteers, and third parties, unconditionally accept the terms of this policy.

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47735551)

You mean the Huffington Post repeated what they were told without even bothering to fact check it? How shocking!

~

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about a month ago | (#47736177)

After all, that seems to be standard procedure at the Huffington School of Medicine.

could've sworn this was not the case (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733629)

Recent changes in higher education in Anglo-Saxon countries prove that most university employees are milquetoast standard-bearers of pusillanimity, too worried about losing their delicate, secure positions to worry about the selling out and destruction of the infrastructure around them - they'll be retired and fuck the younger generation who are supposed to stand on their shoulders, eh?

If there's one place a strike would have worked, it's in higher education. Good luck waiting a decade for people with similar talent and experience to be trained up and to replace your faculty.

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733651)

Funny that higher education has such a strong liberal leaning. I guess it's easier to enjoy your cushy sinecure while telling all the students to go out and ruin their lives being worthless protesters and activists than it is to actually, you know, go out and try to change the world.

The only strike that'll fix higher education is an airstrike. Bunch of hypocrites saying "do as I say, not as I do."

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733833)

I guess it's easier to enjoy your cushy sinecure while telling all the students to go out and ruin their lives being worthless protesters and activists

I don't know what shithole you went to, but Oxford is anything but "strong liberal". Your education is likely to lead you to not change but to take over the world, and you will probably succeed.

However, the academics are - as OP put it - "pusillanimous" when it comes to political influences on themselves, and if they'd actually bothered putting their cushy career on the line to prevent all the crap they didn't want, it wouldn't have come.

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734495)

1) You didn't go to Oxford.
2) One exception does not disprove the rule.

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733967)

I don't know what shit-stained pube-licking school you attended, but institutions like Stanford [stanford.edu] are pretty fucking conservative. Don't worry though, we know that a brain-dead little AC faglet such as yourself could certainly never understand reality. Please go back to shitting yourself stupid and let the adults have a grown-up conversation.

Re:could've sworn this was not the case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734263)

brain-dead little AC faglet such as yourself

This is comedy gold. I'll leave you to try and figure out why, mr. AC.

Not according to the AUP (1)

s.petry (762400) | about a month ago | (#47735079)

I'm not sure if you read the article and checked the block page screen shot, I did. The University spokesperson stated that it was not a block and the student could log in. The image [imgur.com] has no option to bypass or go to a next step, it's a block.

Next, the spokesperson claimed that the policy only applied to staff at the University. Reading their AUP there is no such restriction to staff, and in fact the first paragraph includes students. Northern Illinois University information technology resources, including the electronic communications network (NIUnet) on the NIU campus and off-campus education and research centers, computers attached to this network, and any associated computational resource or service are for the use of persons affiliated with Northern Illinois University, including faculty, staff, emeritus personnel, and students in good standing. Emphasis mine.

The spokesperson may have been confused (or simply dishonest) as later in the same paragraph a justification mentions employee ethics as a "justification", not an inclusion or exclusion. Information technology resources are provided by the university to further the university's mission of research, instruction, and public service. The use of these resources should be consistent with this mission, this policy, and the University’s other use, security policies, and other applicable regulations including the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (SOEEA). Again, emphasis is mine.

The AUP is not legaleze, and can be read and interpreted without much difficulty.

Sure, it's possible there was a network F*ck up or something else which cause the student to receive the block. That said, if the student agreed to this AUP the University is within their rights. I have modified numerous customer facing AUPs, they are always reviewed and approved by legal before consumption. If the University claimed to have released this AUP "on accident" or "with accidental content" I would call bullshit.

If their intent was not to censor content for students, the AUP needs to be scrapped and re-written to exclude students from the policy. Obviously they also need to correct their censoring software to exclude student computers and networks and ensure that it's only censoring content for faculty.

Turn it around: (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733635)

An AUP governs the use of campus equipment and services.

I clicked the link and read the article, and there's gasping outrage about how they're "limiting free speech" by telling students they *also* can't use the campus computer systems for things like political messaging, meetings, rallies, or anything else - in other words, no, you can't spam the student body.

And for those of you who think that it's not right that they'd limit that sort of usage, think long and hard about this:

- Campus Christian Ministry decides to start spamming the entire campus with pro-life messages.
- Young Republicans club start spamming the entire campus with messages calling for the impeachment of Pres. Obama.
- ROTC program starts spamming the entire campus with messages encouraging students to sign up for military service.

Where's your unfettered free speech now?

Re:Turn it around: (3, Insightful)

Richy_T (111409) | about 2 months ago | (#47733647)

Doesn't follow. There's a big difference between solicited and unsolicited email.

Re:Turn it around: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733691)

Not really. You're still chewing up resources to send it, and I guarantee that the first time some poor tender-hearted 18 year old is forced to confront the fact that their pat assumptions about the world aren't universally held true, the line between "solicited" and "unsolicited" will be drawn along lines of "does this agree with my prejudices."

So you avoid the problem by telling people - like you do at any workplace - that they are expected to behave professionally, and not like a bunch of assholes, while using the corporate network. You want "free access to anything you want"? Go pay for your own service.

Re:Turn it around: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47734983)

You mean all that money they already paid?

Re:Turn it around: (1)

ahankinson (1249646) | about a month ago | (#47735083)

It's not a corporate network, it's a university network -- there's a difference. A university network is, essentially, an extension of the library.

Re:Turn it around: (1)

Monoman (8745) | about a month ago | (#47735409)

The library doesn't have unlimited porn, social media, music, etc etc but that is what the majority of the students are using the network for at the school. There isn't nearly as much "personal research" going on in a library as there is on the Internet.

I'm not saying network access should be restricted. I'm just saying let's be honest about how it is being used.

Re: Turn it around: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47736121)

Damn. The authoritarian follower 'do what you're told because somebody says so' corporate apologists are all over then place here.

I also love how we've redefined 'professional' as 'meak, compliant, and conformist'. Just the sort of things authoritarian followers love.

Re:Turn it around: (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733675)

I don't get your point. The summary says they blocked access to Wikipedia articles. Does the university library also cuts out definitions of "communism" (or any other term they are afraid of) from their encyclopedias?

Re:Turn it around: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47736409)

LOL - they ARE communists, why would they want to hide the definition of communism?

Gee... I wonder who could possibly have been behind taking away YOUR free speech?

http://balder.org/judea/Hate-Speech-Laws-Immigration-Jewish-Influence-USA.php

Why, it's our Jewish 'masters', who view us all as 'goyim' (meaning 'cattle'), put on Earth to do their bidding...

Re:Turn it around: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733703)

It comes down to is anything online considered under the freedom of speech or not. If NO, then let them filter. If YES, that is what personal spam filtering is for.

Now as far as the using your own equipment that has to be routed through the school network, they should not be filtering by content. I am all for bandwidth throttling if they really do need to preserve so everybody has access.

Turn it around: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733717)

that's really a whole 'nother animal. to effectively be able to spam the entire campus, the campus IT would have to actively condone it by allowing a particular person's or group's email address to send to a some large email lists. at least, that's how a good email system works. a smart IT group would not allow extra-curricular groups like that to send to email lists. instead, they would have the group send their proposed email to a university official, who would then make sure the email doesn't violate any laws or policy. after approval, the email is sent out en mass.

i disagree with filtering the web at university for anything other than malware and pornography.

Re:Turn it around: (3, Informative)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 months ago | (#47733735)

An AUP governs the use of campus equipment and services.

I clicked the link and read the article, and there's gasping outrage about how they're "limiting free speech" by telling students they *also* can't use the campus computer systems for things like political messaging, meetings, rallies, or anything else - in other words, no, you can't spam the student body.

And for those of you who think that it's not right that they'd limit that sort of usage, think long and hard about this:

- Campus Christian Ministry decides to start spamming the entire campus with pro-life messages.
- Young Republicans club start spamming the entire campus with messages calling for the impeachment of Pres. Obama.
- ROTC program starts spamming the entire campus with messages encouraging students to sign up for military service.

Where's your unfettered free speech now?

Yeah how dare those conservatives exercise their rights to free speech its not like you can mark them as spam and never hear anything they say again. Hell lets take this a step further lets just curtail all political speech on a public campus, In-fact lets set aside an area where they can say what they think where no one else was to hear it we can call it a free speech zone...

Re:Turn it around: (3, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 months ago | (#47733889)

The right to free speech does not mean a university has to provide the publishing infrastructure to make that speech. By logical extension of your standards universities must also provide spray cans so that students can spray paint their thoughts onto the campus buildings. Also Fred Phelps is not a defender of free speech , he's a serial pest who harrases people at family funerals, I really wish more of his victims used the "fighting words" defense as an excuse to beat the shit out of the repulsive little turd.

Re:Turn it around: (5, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | about 2 months ago | (#47733973)

right to free speech does not mean a university has to provide the publishing infrastructure to make that speech.

But this isn't about publishing. This is about web access. What was your point again?

Also Fred Phelps is not a defender of free speech , he's a serial pest who harrases people at family funerals

The man is a freaking icon of free speech. Only hateful, harmful, ugly, disagreeable speech needs any protection in the first place. I can't think of a living speaker who offends my more than that guy has. If you don't support his right to free speech, you're simply unclear on the concept.

Re:Turn it around: (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 2 months ago | (#47734267)

The man is a freaking icon of free speech. Only hateful, harmful, ugly, disagreeable speech needs any protection in the first place. I can't think of a living speaker who offends my more than that guy has. If you don't support his right to free speech, you're simply unclear on the concept.

That's not a two way street. Just because all the speech that needs protecting offends someone doesn't mean all offensive speech should have protection. Threats, libel, slander, fraud and perjury are all forms of speech. Playing loud music at 3AM is arguably a form of expression. The "freedom of speech" card is not absolute in any country on earth, even the US.

Re:Turn it around: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47735563)

> The "freedom of speech" card is not absolute in any country on earth, even the US.

Yeah, but your regulations have to be blind to the *content* of the speech. In other words, you can't have one rule for things you like and another for things you don't, as most are wont to do. So you have to prohibit, for example, all loud speech at 3 AM, not just particular speakers you find offensive.

Perjury is one of the worst examples of selective enforcement, as lawyers and prosecutors skate the line all day and get away with it while normal people usually get hammered.

Re:Turn it around: (3, Insightful)

Adambomb (118938) | about a month ago | (#47735569)

For all I detest the fact, i still hold that anyone should be free to be a complete fucking idiot. If you hold ultra fundamentalist nutjobs as being limitable speech you are simply paving the way for rationalism to be limited in the advent of a fucking moronic demographic spike. Overestimating future generations is kind of what has fucked america over already.

Re:Turn it around: (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a month ago | (#47736287)

Just because all the speech that needs protecting offends someone doesn't mean all offensive speech should have protection. Threats, libel, slander, fraud and perjury are all forms of speech.

You're getting speech confused with the consequences - or lack thereof - of said speech. Two separate issues.

Phelps is not a living speaker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734797)

he died in March 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Phelps

Re:Turn it around: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47736551)

But this isn't about publishing. This is about web access. What was your point again?

That the University has no obligation to provide unlimited free access to all internet content. If the guy wants to read and express political views not related to his studying he can pay for his own web access. What would be scandalous is if a university would make students sign a promise to never look for information about X. This is not the case, they are free to read what they want, but not to use the library access to read about things not related to their studies. If he wants to game the system he can find a way to have to write an essay about a controversial political topic, then claim he could not do proper research due to the web restrictions.

Re:Turn it around: (1)

DRJlaw (946416) | about 2 months ago | (#47734685)

The right to free speech does not mean a university has to provide the publishing infrastructure to make that speech.

No, but it does mean that a public university (note: NIU is a public university, i.e., an institution established by the State of Illinois) which decides to provide a publishing infrastructure cannot the restrict use of that infrastructure based upon the content of what is published without having a compelling interest and using the least restrictive means necessary to achieve that interest.

Your post would be relevant if NIU was debating whether to roll out internet access. Since it has already done so, it does not get to withdraw that publishing infrastructure simply because it views the content as being controversial, political, or somehow less worthy than "approved projects."

Lawyered...

Re:Turn it around: (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about a month ago | (#47734939)

The right to free speech does not mean a university has to provide the publishing infrastructure to make that speech.

No shit university can do whatever it wants.. as a result they can expect to be held accountable for propagating indefensible policies. Fact this university is state funded means they have to answer to more than just students.

By logical extension of your standards universities must also provide spray cans so that students can spray paint their thoughts onto the campus buildings.

Censoring content is not spray cans sorry.

Re:Turn it around: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733897)

Conservatives on a college campus? Whaaaatttttt?????

Free speech: The right to yell in someones ear ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47735491)

Yeah how dare those conservatives exercise their rights to free speech

Most asshats, educated until they burst or not, do not seem to be able to grasp that a) the "freedom of speech" rule is only applicable between the gouverment and a person (not between two persons) b) "free speech" is not, and has never been, the right to force other people to listen to whatever soundwaves he to produce.

Hell lets take this a step further lets just curtail all political speech on a public campus

Hell no. A "free speech" rightsholders has the full right to invade your classroom -- you know, where your teacher is trying to convey knowledge to a group of willing students, which you and those other students payed good money for -- and disrupt whatever is going on there by starting a rant about whatever his thanwhile interrest is (or just make a series of gluttural sounds or maybe just wave his arms around).

And yes, that was sarcasm. :-)

Re:Turn it around: (3)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 months ago | (#47733741)

What does spamming the entire campus body have to do with accessing a political article on wikipedia?

Re:Turn it around: (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 2 months ago | (#47733975)

- Campus Christian Ministry decides to start spamming the entire campus with pro-life messages.
- Young Republicans club start spamming the entire campus with messages calling for the impeachment of Pres. Obama.
- ROTC program starts spamming the entire campus with messages encouraging students to sign up for military service.

Where's your unfettered free speech now?

Why anybody would be worried about those groups or any other boggles the minds. If the content isn't illegal, then why censor it? Surely if kids are smart enough to be in college, they are smart enough to hit a delete key for content they don't want.

Re:Turn it around: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734249)

Surely if kids are smart enough to be in college, they are smart enough to hit a delete key for content they don't want.

I think you're grossly overestimating kids.

Re:Turn it around: (3, Funny)

penguinoid (724646) | about a month ago | (#47734879)

- Campus Christian Ministry decides to start spamming the entire campus with pro-life messages.
- Young Republicans club start spamming the entire campus with messages calling for the impeachment of Pres. Obama.
- ROTC program starts spamming the entire campus with messages encouraging students to sign up for military service.

Where's your unfettered free speech now?

In my spam folder?

Conservatives hate Fred Phelps (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733645)

And since they run universities in this country, of course they're going to block access to that former Democrat politician's web site. That is their way. They can't win fairly so they cheat.

Re:Conservatives hate Fred Phelps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733673)

Actually one of the most skillful trolls I've seen in some time. Was this impromptu, or were you saving it up?

Re:Conservatives hate Fred Phelps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733935)

Responding to your own stupid post with an equally stupid reply. You're a total moron greenwow

Re:Conservatives hate Fred Phelps (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 2 months ago | (#47733719)

Fred died.

Re:Conservatives hate Fred Phelps (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 months ago | (#47733959)

Nobody liked Fred except the 100 brainwashed family members in his "congregation". I was thoroughly disappointed with the gay community's reaction to his death, I had been looking forward to a Brazilian style Mardi Gras at Fred's funeral. Turns out they have a lot more self respect and common decency than Fred, who knew?

Re:Conservatives hate Fred Phelps (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 2 months ago | (#47734049)

God damn Fred Phelps.

My guess (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47733771)

Someone in IT over the summer was told to put on filtering NOW but some campus administrator. That person then found one quickly and installed it, without checking what it actually filters (although filtering companies do make that tough). There's probably lots of gotcha sites that are filtered at NIU nobody knows about yet.

Re:My guess (1)

mpe (36238) | about a month ago | (#47735411)

That person then found one quickly and installed it, without checking what it actually filters (although filtering companies do make that tough).

It also appears to be fairly common for such companies to not be exactly honest about their filtering criteria either. Especially when it comes to anything "political".

Link to Policy and University Clarification (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734073)

http://doit.niu.edu/doit/polic... [niu.edu]

Using the resources for political activities, including organizing or participating in any political meeting, rally, demonstration, soliciting contributions or votes, distributing material, surveying or polling for information connected to a political campaign, completing political surveys or polling information, and any other activities prohibited under the ethics act and/or other state/federal laws.

Emphasis mine, and this makes sense from a CYA perspective. The next one though it bizarre:

Use of personal social media sites, following specific direction to cease or not utilize university equipment or time to an extent or during time periods that would interfere with professional responsibilities, including, but not limited to

??? - can somebody explain what the heck this means. Oh wait, next link.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... [huffingtonpost.com]

That only applies to employees. I think that's where the confusion is. Students -- unless they are an employee

Sorry, this was a poorly planned, executed and communicated rollout. Sounds like a new position for Vice President of IT will be opening for a major university soon...

Re:Link to Policy and University Clarification (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 2 months ago | (#47734327)

Prohibited: "political activities, including organizing or participating in any political meeting, rally, demonstration, soliciting contributions or votes, distributing material, surveying or polling for information connected to a political campaign, completing political surveys or polling information"

Let's face it, this is fascist bullshit.

Screams to be ignored, and, of course subverted by surreptitiously using the accounts of university administrators to send out the political information.

And of course, there's always the good old pasting notices on lampposts and walls. Back in the day, we used a subversive communication system called a "phone tree" for organizing protest rallies.

Gee (0)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 2 months ago | (#47734251)

A student raised concerns after attempting to access the Wikipedia page for Westboro Baptist Church,

Aw, that'd be a shame if they couldn't access their totally inconsequential Two Minutes Hate target.

It's for their own good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734289)

Students who have not completed their indoctrination/education are too stupid to discern when right wing reactionary fascists are deceiving them. So, NIU will be glad to assist and protect them. Always serving the student's interests.

Never heard of it (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 2 months ago | (#47734453)

I guess this is why this fine academic institution has never crossed my radar. I have never heard it mentioned in any publication, any citation, any contest win. I am not saying that they don't publish squat but that nothing they have published managed to catch my attention. And when I read something in Nature, etc I will check to see which institution the various authors are from to mentally compile a list of intellectually active institutions.

So as far as I can tell this place is the intellectual opposite of say, MIT.

They don't want to promote unethical behavior... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734461)

...must not be a business school.

Could someone please explain to me (3, Informative)

PJ6 (1151747) | about 2 months ago | (#47734497)

exactly what is "illegal or unethical" about the content of the Wikipedia article on the Westboro Baptist Church [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Could someone please explain to me (1)

CurryCamel (2265886) | about a month ago | (#47735481)

Perhaps we are looking at this the wrong way round?
Could it be that their intention was to block all of SoMe, politics and wikipedia, to allow students to concentrate, discourage c&p homework, and to encourage students to think for themselves?
The "think of the children, block the pr0n" is just a cover.

If the entire student body... (3, Insightful)

istartedi (132515) | about 2 months ago | (#47734735)

If the entire student body doesn't shut down the school, or at least picket the office and generate some arrests, they should be horribly ashamed.

At the University of Virginia, the Board of Visitors fired the president in an unwarranted way. Student protest helped get her reinstated [nytimes.com] . If student action can do that, I'm pretty sure it can get such an absurd policy overturned. You just have to have the brains to recognize it, and the balls to pursue it.

Anyway, shame on the students if this is allowed to stand.

Mod parent up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47735473)

Mod parent up...apparently, today, a liberal education isn't.

No Homework Allowed, YAY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734783)

Perhaps one of the most controversial of the terms is the restriction on political activities such as surveying, polling, material distribution, vote solicitation and organization or participation in meetings, rallie

If I was a professor there I would try to stretch that to mean no distributing tests to students in your class, no more faculty meetings, and no assembling for graduation! Especially if I was a political science professor, I'd be 'forced' to cancel our class meetings and then ride out of rest of the semester getting paid for nothing.

I'm glad no one I know went there or lives in the area. Someone really fucked up, though it sounds like they are trying to squash some type of student resistance about something.

burn the buildings down and go to a new school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47734829)

problem solved

I'm wondering about protocol (3, Interesting)

Voyager529 (1363959) | about 2 months ago | (#47734871)

According to one of the comments in TFA, https:/// [https] worked fine, so they were only blocking HTTP. This leaves all the other suspects to their devices - the cornucopia of IM clients, VPN traffic, torrent traffic, usenet, diaspora/retroshare, in-game discussion via Steam or Second Life, IRC, etc. Sure, some of those are summarily blocked, but it seems they're doing such a poor job of acting in malice that I'd deem it sufficient to chalk the issue up to incompetence instead.

Re:I'm wondering about protocol (1)

tommeke100 (755660) | about a month ago | (#47736427)

exactly.
When you're blocking everything, you're blocking nothing.
Instead of having a clear view of what was on the mind of students, these students will now use anonymous proxies, vpn , tor and the like to still access this content.
In turn, the university will have lost control or at least oversight of what the students were actually accessing.

Free Speech Movement 50th anniversary, UC Berkeley (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47735109)

Free Speech Movement 50th anniversary, UC Berkeley this fall, come on down. Reunion and Celebration
September 26-October 1, 2014
Free Speech Movement Archives http://www.fsm-a.org/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Speech_Movement
It's all about political speech. Unbelievable. Nip this one immediately.

What better place to suppress thought (1)

gelfling (6534) | about a month ago | (#47735541)

Than a college campus. Good Job and All Hail

Information quality is a good way to rate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47736045)

Look at the universities that are dropping and falling out of the national rankings (like every major U in Virginia, where education funds from the lottery have long since been diverted away by the state legislature) and you'll see that many or most of them are the ones that are firing off their IT staves, migrating to "the cloud," and otherwise lowering and restricting the quality, volume, and reliability of the information that's traded on the campus.

Restricting the information to which people have access is just one more way to lower the quality of the information, and also the quality of the University that attempts it. It's certainly more damaging than mere fund strangulation, because the damage caused by politics appears to be exponentially related to the ignorance of those who play politics in education.

Why are they censoring in this way? (1)

matbury (3458347) | about a month ago | (#47736059)

The question is why? What do they hope to achieve with this kind of censorship. I can understand wanting to censor sites that promote and enable illegal activities. I can understand K-12 schools trying to censor porn and violence (doesn't work but at least trying keep parents happy, BTW). So what do they hope to achieve with blocking Wikipedia and other sites? What's their intended outcome? And if they're blocking individual pages, who's combing through the entire internet and deciding what to allow and disallow and how are they deciding it? (Abviously not volunteers from Westboro Baptist Church).

BTW, are they also blocking TOR and encrypted proxies? Are they preventing students from using their own mobile connections? Can't see how this will achieve anything other than generating suspicion ill-will and contempt for the university's leadership.

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