LMCAS votes on blocks

Perry Continente , twitter.com/perrycontinente

Los Medanos College Associated Students voted Monday to oppose The Web blocking system installed last fall throughout the Contra Costa Community College District Monday, March 12. The statement opposed the blocks, both on the grounds of their being exclusionary to students who do not have computer access and as a means of unnecessary censorship.

The statement supports unrestricted access while also raising a question of the ethics of blocking access to sites in what, for many students, is their only means of Internet access.

A passage reads, “This censorship creates a barrier for students who do not have the means or privilege of private access.”

LMCAS voted 5-0 to send the statement with a single abstention.  This follows the unanimous vote by the Academic Senate on March 12 to send a similar resolution to the IT department and district administration.

Author of the statement and LMCAS president Marco McMullen said, “This is a pretty big deal. It’s a heated topic so far. I think this will carry a lot of weight.”

McMullen described the decision making process.

“What compelled us to pass the statement was the fact that this software was inhibiting student learning. As advocates for the student body, it is our primary concern to ensure the general welfare of students, especially those who do not have private, non-censored computer access at home.”

LMCAS treasurer Marco Mendez was also motivated by possible equity issues.

“I liked that the resolution focused on students who did not have easy Internet access,” he said, “We were really worried about equity.”

The decision to make the statement was inspired not just by the student response, but also following a meeting McMullen had with history professor Josh Bearden. Bearden, along with Library director Christina Goff and Librarian Roseann Erwin have been driving forces in the opposition to the blocks.

The district’s newly appointed Vice Chancellor of Education and Technology Mojdeh Mehdizadeh as well as District Chancellor, Fred Wood will speak about the blocks and respond to the statements at the Academic Senate meeting Monday, April 9.

“We want to work with the district, and the district seems to be interested in working with us,” said Bearden. “We’re waiting on Mojdeh to take her new position.”

The Academic Senate meeting has a public comment portion where students will be allowed to make statements at the beginning of the meeting. The meeting is in Library L-109 on Monday, April 9 from 3 to 5 p.m.