LMC stands up to blocks

Perry Continente, twitter.com/perrycontinente

The LMC Academic Senate is forming an ad hoc committee in response to the controversial URL blocking software installed by the district late last year.

The committee still hasn’t officially been formed, but several people from a variety of disciplines are in talks to participate. Faculty, both full and part-time, have been requested to join along with a contingent from LMC Associated Students.

Among those that will be represented are librarians, the department arguably most affected by the blocks, and computer science.

Roseanne Erwin, a librarian and a driving force behind the movement, elaborated on the committee and its possible membership.

   “The members still need to be nominated and will be confirmed at the first Academic Senate meeting in fall,” said Erwin. “We already have one confirmed member, Curtis Corlew, who represents the Full Time Faculty at Large. I will be the Library’s nomination.”

Corlew, a longtime professor of journalism and art had sent a letter offering his services to the committee.

“I am, and have always been, interested and involved in the movement of and access to information,” said Corlew. “I believe strongly that the issue this committee will take on is of vital importance to students, staff and faculty at our college, and the district as a whole.”

While most of the committee has yet to be filled, a decision that will be made early next semester, it represents another step by the Academic Senate against the blocks.

The three quarter of a million dollar software preemptively blocks websites based on an algorithm that analyzes the sites based on a number of categories as a preventative measure for malware.

The practice has come under fire from the majority of the faculty and has been accused of being censorship based on prior restraint and running counter to the ideals and ethics of a public institution. The district has characterized it as a simple security measure.

The decision to form the committee follows the initial backlash against the practice that resulted in a unanimous vote by the Academic Senate to oppose the blocks.

This vote resulted in the district changing the confusing message displayed when a site was blocked with one providing clearer instructions on the unblocking process.

Both the district and the Academic Senate have made it clear that this is an ongoing discussion, and the formation of the committee is another step in that process.