Certain online content has been periodically blocked through Hofstra’s Wi-Fi throughout the semester, restricting student access to sites such as the explicit adult video sharing platform, Pornhub. Earlier in the semester, trying to access the site brought you to a page saying that it couldn’t be reached. Kyle Anderson, a sophomore exercise science major, while not a regular user of the video sharing service, still finds some faults in the reason why it can’t be used.
“I can understand why it’s blocked, but it’s a little annoying how Hofstra chooses to dictate what us as students do with their own technology,” Anderson said. “I feel like in college, you’d have more freedom and not held under any restraints. It’s almost like a high school’s cyber-security protocol followed us here.”
To prevent certain malware from entering not only a student’s personal device, but also the technology Hofstra uses to keep the Wi-Fi running, specific measures have to be taken in order to provide a safe internet environment that every student can use.
“We don’t block anything unless it falls under specific category. Pornhub sends a lot of inquiries to a school’s database, which can infect computer systems, thus bringing harmful malware,” said Robert W. Juckiewicz, the vice president for Information Technology at Hofstra. “Machines can get damaged like this without us even knowing, so we constantly have to explain why a situation like this happens and what the underlying cause was.”
The usage of certain websites and apps through Hofstra University’s Wi-Fi has become more restricted as of late. The most popular app being Tinder, a widely used social service used to meet to people based on your location. It has gained strong popularity on college campuses since 2014 when it started to receive massive attention online.
However, Tinder was not blocked by Hofstra, but rather the opposite; Hofstra, at one point, was one of the most popular schools to use the app that it created too much web activity for the service to handle. This eventually led to Tinder whitelisting Hofstra due to the amount of traffic coming from the one IP address that the campus uses.
High schools across the nation are known for instilling specific blocks on sites that students aren’t allowed to access due to either non-relevance to the curriculum or explicit material. Chase Bridgers, a junior journalism major, reflected on what his high school did in order to keep students’ Internet activity under their control.
“All throughout high school, we had bans on specific websites. It got to a point where they put bans on almost everything,” Bridgers said. “Anything that interfered with the learning process basically was seen as ‘bannable’ material.”
As an aspiring journalism major leaning towards sports, Bridgers found some difficulties with having restrictions put on sites like ESPN. Now enrolled at a university, he understands the restrictions were set in place for a reason.
“College is a totally different game and environment than high school is. Some high school students won’t be as dedicated to the learning process that a high school provides. I’m very thankful that ESPN isn’t blocked for me anymore, because as a sports journalist, I’d be out of luck if that was still the case.”
When asked about the block on Pornhub, he said, “I feel that if it doesn’t really have an effect on your education, it should definitely get a reconsideration. Someone using [it] in class is a different story. There are certain limitations that you can put on things that students choose to do with their recreational time.”
Juckiewicz says that there’s more to it than just simply blocking websites that students shouldn’t be entering in the first place.
“Our mission is to create and disseminate information. Security is the other thing; we’re at odds with what our culture needs with what safety needs,” Juckiewicz said. “You can read the news every day, and there are new stories about security break-ins through government and corporate technology systems. There’s a lot of data and codes that we need to protect.”
With students not being able to access the pornographic site, it creates less of a risk for their computers to be hacked and damaged. When such a thing like this happens, an antivirus software can only do so much until a repair company has to take it from there.
Stephan Duroseau, a sophomore computer science major working in the Repair Center at Hofstra, knows how much viruses can get in the way of being able to use your device for whatever purpose.
“Downloading material and torrents that can harm your computer are the number one cause for viruses from what I’ve seen here,” Dureoseau said. “If you do this on these sites, you’re always playing a risky game.”