To Censor or Not to Censor?

Jamie Spelling

Pascack Hills High School is a place of trust. Students are trusted to work at bistro tables in hallways, to take tests in teacher-less classrooms, and even to leave campus for lunch. Yet, there remains one area of Hills that is guarded like none other: the Internet. Aside from “that kid” who can bust through any firewall, there is only one man with the power to key the lock to some of the most notoriously blocked websites on the web: Mr. Paul Zeller, or as you may know him, “pz.”

“As a district, we open categories to students that we know are needed for their educational success,” stated Zeller in a recent interview. So, as hard as we may try to push the fact that Orange is the New Black is informative on the topic of women’s prisons, Netflix has, unfortunately, been deemed non-educational.  However, there was much more thought behind the decision to block Netflix than simply its inappropriate content.

“[It] consumes incredible bandwidth,” Zeller commented. “When Netflix consumes this bandwidth for non-educational purposes, it takes away from bandwidth needed for educational purposes.” Understandable reasoning, but it doesn’t make our Netflix-free days hurt any less.

On the topic of education, Pascack Hills sophomore Brandon Kreindel pleads to unblock the classic student-saver, WikiAnswers. He says, “WikiAnswers should be unblocked because it allows the students to have a resource filled with millions of questions similar to theirs.” The search engine has a very student-friendly model. A user may ask a question to the public and all responses are voted on, then filtered so that the most accurate responses are at the top of the page. WikiAnswers falls in the “gray area” of the tech department’s approval page because, while there could be educational value, there is no filter as to what users can post and more importantly, what students can see.

Despite these instances, if there is a website that you strongly feel should be freed from the chains of the Pascack Hills Internet filter, there is hope. If the student body at large is interested in having a site unblocked, raise the question at a Student Government meeting. Once upon a time, during very sad days, YouTube was blocked on school-issued laptops. After raising this as an issue to the Administration, YouTube has been unleashed and enjoyed by Hills students for two years, and is still going strong. Who knows what could be unblocked next… In the end, it’s up to you.