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Male students ask Catholic university to install porn filter on Wi-Fi

James Risdon James Risdon

NOTRE DAME, Indiana, November 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Male students at the University of Notre Dame are asking for a porn filter to be put on the Catholic school's Wi-Fi to help students who are fighting against porn addiction.

"A filter would make it much more difficult for (individuals who are struggling with an addiction to pornography) to access pornography in an easy way," said James Martinson, president of Students for Child-Oriented Policy, in an interview. 

"I have spoken in confidence with many of my Notre Dame brothers who have told me that a filter would help them stop their pornography addiction," he said.

In October, a group of 80 male University of Notre Dame students signed a letter describing the ease with which porn is available on campus, the damage it does, and calling on the administration to put a filter in place to screen out X-rated websites.

The following day, 63 female students at Notre Dame sent off a similar letter, supporting the request to put in place a porn filter on the university's Wi-Fi. 

The students also launched a petition to show the widespread support for the porn filter. Within weeks, it had garnered more than 1,400 signatures, including about 10 per cent of the undergraduate population. 

"Pornography does not come up often in casual conversation, but its effects are everywhere, even on the campus we call home," wrote the male students in their letter. "A survey conducted in 2013 showed that 63 per cent of male Notre Dame students have viewed pornography on the university Wi-Fi network. National studies have demonstrated 64 per cent of college men and 18 per cent of college women spend time viewing online porn each week."

Almost nine in 10 men look at porn and as many as 20 per cent of online searches from mobile devices is for X-rated material. Critics say that porn usage is corrosive to real-life relationships. 

"Fifty-six percent of divorce cases involve 'one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites,'" noted the male Notre Dame students. "It is no surprise, then, that research demonstrates the highly addictive nature of pornography, which affects the human brain as both a stimulant and an opiate."

In their letter to the administration, the students also point that pornography is associated with child sexual abuse, male fertility problems, sexual assault and the acceptance, normalization and sexualization of cruelty towards women. 

"It contributes to prostitution, human trafficking and the proliferation of sexually-transmitted diseases," they wrote. "It has been officially declared a public health crisis in five states. And yet, in a matter of seconds, anyone can access porn. And no one needs to know. A tab is easily closed.

"In the face of the massive violation of human dignity perpetuated by pornography production and consumption, many organizations worldwide have taken the simple, positive step of internet filtering," wrote the students. "Unfortunately, Notre Dame has yet to take this step. The Notre Dame internet compliance policy prohibits the access of pornographic material, but the university has not enforced this policy."

Not everyone at the University of Notre Dame supports the idea of a porn filter. 

In a letter penned last month, Peter Jeffery, the university's Michael P. Grace Professor of Medieval Studies, agreed there are dangers surrounding pornography but insisted a porn filter would only create more problems than it would solve.

The professor claimed in his letter there is a problem in even defining what is and is not pornographic. 

"Even a publication as staid as National Geographic has published pictures of minimally-clad adults and children," wrote Jeffery.

He also claimed a porn filter would throttle research all over campus. 

"It’s impossible to investigate history, literature, the arts, religion, anthropology and many other fields without coming across sexual material that would offend some people today (or even back then)," he wrote. "The Sistine Chapel frescos are full of naked bodies, for instance, and seeing them in the pope’s personal chapel has bothered people for centuries … Even the Bible and the writings of some Christian mystics present stories, imagery and attitudes about sex and violence that many people find problematic."

According to Jeffery, a "more constructive approach" would be to educate people about porn addiction and provide support groups and other interventions to help them.

Martinson dismisses the notion that a porn filter would be an impediment to serious research.

"Holy Cross College, which is a stone's throw away from Notre Dame, has had a filter for the past 15 years," he said. "Dr. Michael Griffin, the senior vice-president of Holy Cross College, states that their filter has never inhibited academic research. 

"In the very rare case that professors need access to a website, the website is immediately unblocked by the IT department," said Martinson. "This is a non-issue given the power of smart-filtering technology that exists today."

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