Notre Dame Students Request Porn Filter on Campus Wi-Fi

By Emily Ward | December 13, 2018 | 5:40 PM EST

University of Notre Dame (Screenshot)

Students and faculty members are asking the University of Notre Dame to install a filter to block pornography access on its campus Wi-Fi networks.

More than 1,000 members of the Notre Dame community have signed a petition calling on President Rev. John Jenkins to implement “a filter to stop the use of pornography on University-funded Wi-Fi.” In addition, on Nov. 1, Notre Dame Students for Child Oriented Policy (SCOP) wrote a formal policy proposal requesting a filter.

“Pornography advances a twisted narrative about human sexuality, harms those who consume it, and leads, in particular, to the sexualization of and cruelty towards women,” SCOP wrote in the proposal.

“It insidiously undermines the Catholic Church’s teachings about human sexuality,” the students added. Notre Dame is a private, Catholic university.

On Oct. 23, led by Notre Dame senior and SCOP President James Martinson, a group of 81 male students penned a letter to the editor of The Observer, the university’s student-run newspaper. In the letter, Martinson argued that a porn filter would “send the unequivocal message that pornography is an affront to human rights and catastrophic to individuals and relationships.”

The very next day, on Oct. 24, 68 Notre Dame women responded via their own open letter. Led by SCOP Vice President Ellie Gardey, a sophomore, the women argued that pornography use “threatens” respect for human dignity by “preventing men and women from encountering the full personhood of one another.”

“Pornography sucks the energy and will out of men to see and respect women comprehensively: mind, heart, body and soul,” Gardey wrote.

Notre Dame’s internet compliance policy already prohibits users from viewing pornography on its networks, but does not enforce this prohibition.

When CNSNews.com asked whether the university planned to install a porn filter, Paul Browne, Notre Dame Vice President of Public Affairs & Communications, did not answer the question, but said Notre Dame expected its students to “self-filter.”

“Notre Dame already has proscriptions against using university laptops and other computers to access pornography,” Browne wrote. “In fact, we have assisted in the criminal prosecution of such usage. We recognize that pornography is exploitative and not a victimless crime. Nonetheless we expect our students to ‘self-filter,’ and not patronize porn sites in the first place.”

In an informal survey conducted by a Notre Dame student in 2013 and referenced by the men of Notre Dame in their letter, 63% of Notre Dame men admitted to viewing porn while on campus – suggesting that students are not, in fact, filtering themselves.

This number is in line with national data, which estimate that 64% of college men view porn each week and 63% of men aged 18 to 30 view porn several times a week.

The internet safety group Enough Is Enough (EIE) has thrown its support behind the students, through its own campaign and petition. EIE President and CEO Donna Rice Hughes implored the university to take concrete action.

“We implore University officials to implement readily-available technology solutions and respond to the collective voices of its students,” Hughes said. “Be responsible and don’t contribute to the factors leading to the objectification of women, addiction and destructive behavior. Stand for the safety and dignity of your future leaders.”

In their letters, the students cited research showing that porn addiction wreaks havoc on relationships and contributes to objectification of women. In addition, porn consumption correlates with increased sexual aggression, and 88% of porn scenes involve physical aggression.

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