Benedictine College recently put into effect a new internet usage policy that blocks more websites than ever before, in addition to installing two new firewalls in response to the campus-wide ransomware attacks in Fall 2018.
The internet usage policy is powered by FortiGuard Web Filtering, which blocks websites according to various categories, for example ‘pornography.’ However, along with blocking the expected sites, students have been surprised for others.
Dani Boulanger, a student at Benedictine and president of Ravens Respect Life has found multiple pro-life websites blocked by FortiGuard. Sites including Justice for All, an organization that had representatives come to Benedictine College for an apologetics training.
“I think it’s kind of detrimental to be blocking certain websites,” Boulanger said. “To say, as a general rule, if they have [a certain] word, its off limits—that’s unrealistic.”
According to Randy Rowland, Director of Information Technology (IT), FortiGuard is set to follow Student Life guidelines that seek to protect students from content related to alcohol, weapons, drugs, and pornography.
Rowland said that the new internet usage policy is in the best interest of the students, saying certain sites may not only be morally illicit, but can be known gateways for viruses that put students’ privacy to be at risk.
“I think it goes with the principle: ‘What’s the best and right thing for the Benedictine College family,” Rowland said.
Rowland says the school is aware FortiGuard is blocking websites that are not necessary to block. However, Rowland said, the school would rather have more websites blocked than needed, knowing they can manually allow those sites later deemed appropriate.
Boulanger thinks it would be better to block only the sites that are known risks.
“There’s a fine line between censorship and safety and I think there’s going to be a lot of difficulty trying to find that line,” Boulanger said.
Rowland encourages any student who finds a website blocked that they do not think should be to submit the website to IT. Rowland said that any requests the department receives will go through Student Life, namely, Joe Wurtz, Dean of Students, who has the final say on the website’s appropriateness.
The IT Department can be contacted through the IT Help Desk via firstname.lastname@example.org.