INLS310: Re: Entertainment Weekly

On Wed, 22 Jan 1997, Joey Senat wrote:

> Do you mean censoring pages that get lots of hits? Adminstrators have used
> that as a reason for taking down student pages. To me, it's censoring
> somebody for having a popular message.
> As for the associate provost's statement that "I do not want to be in the
> business of monitoring what students do, read, or say. But, at this point,
> I have no choice."
> I'm not clear on why he doesn't have a choice. But I go back to my previous
> conclusion: if NCSU allows students to have web pages, then he doesn't have
> any business monitoring what students do, read, or say. He's not only
> violating their free speech rights, but he's taking on institutional
> liability for NCSU.

I'm curious how absolutist you are with this position, because it seems
that from a system adminsitrator's perspective, you could have real
problems. Your statement that they are censoring people for being popular
is sort of misleading. For example, Yahoo! started out as a student
project and was run on campus computers. It was obvious at some point that
the site had to be moved because the enormous amount of traffic on the
server was preventing anything school-related from being done.

The point I want to make is that although you are being consistent by
arguing that once resources are granted to students, dictating content is
censorship, in practice this breaks down, because it has a direct 
impact on other users. If I am claiming vast amounts of system resources
for non-school activities - either disk space (as a ratio of available
space to users) or processing power (heavy web site usage, running
remailer programs, etc.) - then the system administrator should be able to
restrict my usage so that other legitimate users are not at a

Are disk quotas (restrictions on the amount of disk space students can
use) "censorship"?  

How about high traffic or processing capacity? For example, there is a
non-SILS related site on ruby that accounted for 45% of all web traffic
in the last month, with tens of thousands of hits, as well as a "fan page"
on that generated another 3% of all web traffic. Can the school impose
restrictions on these sites?

Would it make a difference if they were commercial web sites (e.g.,
students running businesses from their school web sites)?

The old phrase "you have a right to free speech, but not a right to a 
podium" seems appropriate here.


   W. John MacMullen............................http://ils.unc.edu/~macmw