310 Re: Entertainment Weekly/NCSU

On Wed, 22 Jan 1997, Joey Senat wrote:

> Erika Grams wrote regarding NCSU's censorship of a student home page:
> "I thought this would be interesting (and close to home) in light of the
> discussion about what the role of universities should be with student
> pages ... a new vein of attack -- performance problems. Though it also
> brings up the distressing issue of selectivity."
> 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.

What I meant was ... I had not seen the argument "it causes performance
problems" previously. That is an understandable concern -- though picking
and choosing sites to keep and remove based on popularity rather than the
space they take up (presumably the picks take up a serious amount of
space) is not something I would advocate. What I meant by selectivity is
that I think the associate provost then weakend his argument by the quote
you re-iterated below. He can't say he is monitoring on popularity and
then imply he is censoring on content without making himself, probably,
more liable.

> 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 agree with you hear which is why I found the statement interesting. In
fact, I turned on the TV yesterday just as WRAL began running a piece on
this same issue -- because of the EW coverage, they interviewed the
student on tape. (I captured the last thirty seconds or so if anyone is
interested -- he apparently now has a $30,000 job so 'it was a good
experience for me!'). According to the anchor, the provost says his
statements were taken by Entertainment Weekly out of context.