The arbitrary nature of the WiFi restrictions

Lucas Friedman, Staff Writer

We have all had an off period with no friends to talk to and no homework to do.  We have all been there.  So in order to avoid boredom, our natural reaction is to reach for our cell phones and utilize as many forms of social media as humanly possible.  Suddenly, we find ourselves fighting the urge to throw our phones across the library as we discover that our favorite “procrastination” websites are banned by the school WiFi.

By now, every student knows Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, fantasy sports, and many other social websites are banned on the school WiFi.  What students do not know is the school’s rationale for banning them.  The school claims that these banned websites either provide illicit, inappropriate content, or the site distracts students from learning through means of communication, gaming, and video sharing.  Now, it is debated whether or not the websites should be banned in the first place, and there are many positives and negatives to granting students access to the websites that  the school has so carefully worked to ban.

The vast majority of students are in favor or making all websites accessible.  I surveyed a group of 30 Schreiber students about whether they agree or disagree with the banning of websites in school.  Much to my expectations, every student except one agreed that we should have access to these banned websites.  What did differ were their reasons for argument.  While some do not understand the reason the school has for banning their favorite sites, others recognized the rationale behind the bans, but figured it is unnecessary and easy to circumvent.

“I could understand if they completely prevented access, but someone can just turn off the school wifi and go on the websites anyway, so I see no point in banning them,” said senior Steph Ramirez.

This is most students’ second reaction (after fury) to seeing that their intended destination is blocked.  They turn off their WiFi and see the same content on 4G.

“They make you use up all of your data, and that’s not cool,” said senior Robbie Marx.

Some students believe that it is not up to the school to decide how students budget their time.  If students choose to do work for an entire off period, then that is their choice.  If they decide they want to post a selfie on Instagram, then they should have the right to do so.  If students want to spend an hour in the library, they can, just as they can spend an hour in the cafeteria or the circle.

It can also be argued that a website like YouTube can be used as an educational resource.  It is undeniable that YouTube has a vast library of incredibly informative videos, and while they should not be used as a primary source on a research paper, a student should be able to access those videos when they simply have nothing else to do.  To add insult to injury, many education websites, such as National Geographic, are inaccessible to Schreiber students.  The banning process sometimes seems arbitrary, because other procrastination sites, like Reddit, remained unbanned.

The most common argument against total web liberation is that those websites should not be used in school no matter the circumstances.  Many believe that school is a place for learning and work, and that a student should refrain from the use of social media and other distracting websites, and save them for when they get home.  Is it too much to ask of kids to stay off restricted websites for six hours out of their day?  High school is meant to prepare students for the real world, and the use of social media is not a common practice in a real life job, although some employees certainly wish it was.

There is also a moral justification for the banning of websites.

“It is perfectly fine for the school to ban those websites, students shouldn’t be using the school WiFi for anything but school work and research,” said junior Diana Brennan.

Whether you agree or disagree with the school’s website bans, it is a fact that students will always find a way to access their favorite banned websites, so perhaps the school should just allow them to do it on the WiFi that is provided.