All across the country, colleges and universities have made consistent efforts in the past several years to reduce all forms of sexual misconduct on their campuses. Students are typically required to attend informative interventions and lectures about such misconduct during their freshman orientation, and with a renewed awareness of sexual harassment, sexism, and sexual assault on their campuses (as well as the #metoo movement), our young people have becoming surprisingly and strikingly vigilant about these hot button issues.
But perhaps no students are more vigilant than the male and female students of Notre Dame University, who in an unprecedented move, have written op-ed letters to university administrators asking for campus Wi-Fi networks to be filtered – all in an effort to curtail student’s access to pornography. The letters were published a day apart last week in Notre Dame’s student run newspaper, The Observer, and follow an online petition that drew more than 1,000 signatures from students, faculty, and staff.
The men’s letter was addressed to the administration and was signed by over 80 male students, and the women’s letter- signed by 63 females and published the following day – was addressed to the signatories of the men’s letter, and offers full female support of their concerns. In it, the females state, “We stand in solidarity with your request to filter out pornography on Notre Dame’s wireless internet networks.”
The men’s letter cites a shocking on campus pornography viewing statistic, though one that if we’re truly honest with ourselves, probably shouldn’t be that shocking at all. The statistic came from a 2013 informal survey of students, and found that 63% of male and 11% of female students had viewed porn via the campus Wi-Fi. The current ease and convenience at which our young people have access to all types of pornography (that in previous decades would have been locked up behind counters and available only at video stores and with proper I.D.), is both scary in context and almost normative in reality.
Because on average, a young male is now first exposed to pornography around age 13.37, an age at which would seem almost unbelievable to past generations, so inevitably by the time those males reach college, pornography has almost lost it’s taboo-hence the near normality of it. But for the students at Notre Dame, the “taboo” aspect of porn is the least of their concerns. For them, reducing access to porn has now become a humanitarian and human dignity issue in relation to the objectification (and in some cases – animalification of) females.
More specifically, their letter states the following;
As the men of Notre Dame, we request that the University implement a filter to make pornography inaccessible on the Notre Dame Wi-Fi networks. This filter would send the unequivocal message that pornography is an affront to human rights and catastrophic to individuals and relationships. We are calling for this action in order to stand up for the dignity of all people, especially women.
Additionally, the letter cites several studies which present a clear link between pornography viewing and consumption and “addiction, child sexual abuse, divorce, male fertility problems, sexual assault and the acceptance, normalization and sexualization of cruelty towards women,” as well as “human trafficking and the proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases.”
As of yet, there have been no opponents of this proposed measure that have come out publicly, and since Notre Dame is a private institution, in actuality, censoring a specific stream of internet content is well within their “rights.” While limiting public access to information and content is a verifiable no-no on college campuses, which typically boast of extensive freedoms related to information and artistic expression, students at Notre Dame are invariably contending that pornography doesn’t meet those same “artistic” expressions, and its consumption is more of a detriment (not a benefit) to their well-being, and to the development of healthy romantic relationships.
Their attempts at reducing and inevitably eliminating porn’s presence on their campus internet is to be applauded, and is an honorable and chivalrous first attempt at reducing access to one of society’s greatest ilks. Well done, Irish.