April Fool’s Issue
Students are planning a protest outside the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Edith Garland Dupré Library since the school announced last week that it will ban all social networking sites from the campus network beginning in the fall.
“Since the inception of Facebook and other social networking sites, we’ve noticed increasing problems with use of these sites on campus,” said Sheryl Kurry, head of the library’s Internet Access Services. “Teachers are constantly reporting that their students don’t pay attention in class. In the computer labs, many students aren’t able to fully utilize our services because others are occupying the computers for extended periods of time, tending to their Farmville gardens or perusing through last night’s drunken photos. This is an institution for higher education, where this technology is provided for the advancement of knowledge—not one’s social life. A line has got to be drawn somewhere.”
The ban has been in the works for more than seven months now, when a group of graduate students submitted a letter and petition bearing 100 names to UL Lafayette President Dr. Joseph Savoie’s office last August.
“For the sake of sustaining the university’s level of academic prestige, it is imperative that Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and all other social networking sites be prohibited from the campus network so that students remain prioritized, focused and poised for a successful future,” said the one-paragraph letter, which simply requested that UL Lafayette officials further investigate the matter and consider the ban.
In response, Savoie appointed a 10-person committee to research campus computer usage, which included members of the administration, faculty and student body. Enlisting the help of the computer science department, the committee decided to install Internet monitoring programs in every machine in each of the university’s nine computer labs. The program recorded data over a three-month period, listing every Web site visited and the amount of time spent at each one.
“Through our research we discovered that on average, more than 76 percent of a student’s time on our computers is spent using these social networking sites, especially Facebook,” said Kurry, noting that the remaining 24 percent is divided between Google, YouTube and PeopleOfWalMart.com.
Kurry said the majority of UL Lafayette faculty and staff agree that banning Facebook will be beneficial to student productivity, yet members of the student body are already speaking out.
“This ban is against our rights as both citizens of the United States and as paying students of this university,” said senior liberal arts student Erinn Utter, 22, who is spearheading the student movement to overturn the new policy. “UL officials don’t seem to comprehend that in the digital age, social networking sites are vital forms of communication.”
Utter said in addition to organizing Thursday’s protest, she is working with the Student Government Association to obtain legal representation against the university, citing First Amendment violations as the basis of the suit. She also seeks to receive monetary compensation for students because of the mental anguish and emotional damages they will incur as a result of the ban.
“The university is harming the mental health of its student population by forcing people to speak to one another in real life,” contended Utter. “Who needs in-person conversation anymore when Facebook Chat gives us emoticons? Not to mention Google is always a click away, making it easy to search for your opinion when using status updates to chime in on major national issues like healthcare and the Republican Party. Banning social networking is like hushing the university’s entire student population.”
The protest commences at 8 a.m. Thursday, April 1 and will continue until dusk. Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers will be providing 3 Finger Combos to every participant in support of keeping social networking alive on campus.
“Come out and protect your rights, but bring a bat or some form of bludgeoning object in case things get ugly,” said Utter.
More information can be found on the protest’s Facebook event page, titled “FACEBOOK FOR-FUCKING-EVER.”