By Jesse Lewis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
CLAIRE C. LAURENCE/Arizona Summer Wildcat
Religious studies senior Allen Todd navigates the Web at the library last week. When asked about other students accessing pornographic materials, Todd said, "It doesn't bother me and I don't care. I'm too busy doing my own thing."
Students and visitors using the computers in the library have no rules to abide by that restrict looking up controversial or offensive material.
The viewing policies in campus computer labs and the Information Commons in the Main Library maintain that only child pornography is forbidden on common computers.
According to the Library and Information Commons Policies, "It is neither illegal nor against library rules for customers to view pornography or other controversial materials on the Web. The exception is child pornography. The library will contact police if we see someone viewing child pornography."
"We do believe that most of the world of ideas is a legitimate subject to study," said Robert Mitchell, acting leader of the library's undergraduate services team, which over sees the Information Commons.
"If we start telling our users what they can and can't look at, we are on a slippery slope," he said.
The university is a public institution, so people are allowed to use the facilities as they wish.
Juan Lopez, a computer engineering freshman, feels that what people look at is their own business.
"I've seen people looking at porn a few times. If they want to look like a fool, that's their choice," he said.
Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied in the Information Commons by an adult.
If anyone is looking up material offensive to someone near by, the offended party is usually advised to move.
Some students feel that there are places to do research involving offensive material other than the library, surrounded by students trying to study.
"It's inappropriate for that to be looked up here," said Nicole Hallan, history senior.
"There are other places besides the library to do that," she said.
If the library is very crowded, people without CatCards must give the computers to CatCard holders.
But there is nothing else to restrict computer usage.
"Its not our job to keep people from doing research, or if they are entertaining themselves," Mitchell said. "We are non-judgmental about what people are viewing."
Mitchell said that there have only been a few cases of people viewing child pornography in the library, and when it has happened the police have been called in.
No one has been kicked out of the library for viewing offensive material; people are only asked to leave if they are being disruptive by forcing other people to view it or by disturbing the quiet of the computer lab.