Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Probably not America's #1 party school

St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic School in Michigan made my morning TV news. It seems that they have decided to ban students from using myspace.com. Fine, no big deal that stuff doesn't belong in the school day and if they want to outlaw it, so be it.

The catch here is that they are also outlawing students from using the website at home, too. Per Principal Sr. Margaret Van Velzen:

"Those students who have existing MySpace.com accounts must delete them if they wish to continue going to school there. Students who do not delete their accounts cannot attend the school"

Principal Van Velzen says that the parents have been supportive citing "99.9% of e-mails" have been for the ban. The school, er, news crews found one such parent in favor of eliminating myspace:

"I think we've got a long way to go because it's a very difficult situation to grasp in its entirety. There's so many things going on on the Internet and there's so much vulnerability for children."

I thought early on that a "99.9%" positive response seemed a wee bit unreasonable. In fact, the clickondetroit.com story host has a poll up as a sidebar to the story and after 9,000 votes, 75% of the readers were anti-school policy. As well they should.

I don't disagree that there's a lot of vulnerability for children and that schools should protect them within the confines of the school. However, I am firmly against the stand that schools should be dictating what goes on at home. Sure it's not a public school and therefore outside the normal scrutiny of free speech, but as a product of Catholic schools, I'm a concerned that St. Hugo of the Hills has decided that the best approach to the serious situation is to close their eyes and pretend it's not there. That does the children a disservice, especially since they will inevitably come across myspace.com regardless of the principal's policy. After all, candidates for the Presidency of the United States are doing the chic thing and coming up with myspace pages and accounts. Educating as opposed to ignoring the situation strikes me as the best response.

The fault here I find with the often criticized group of people known as parents. The quotes scream of ignorance of the situation. The article quoted another parent who said, "I think this is going to have to happen because things are getting out of hand." Coupled with "there's so much going on" I have to believe that these vague quotes come from parents have no idea what myspace.com is. Instead of learning themselves the dangers of the Internet and finding out how to best instruct the children, they've hidden behind the shield of a school and said, "You do it for us." Disappointing all around.

Combined with my Andy Rooney post, it's been a happy time here at Wolfden V the past two days. Somebody say something funny to lighten the mood. Preferably not involving Regis Philbin.


dani said...

Ok first of the Art Institute has been trying to block myspace.com for two months purely because we get bored in class and end up on myspace. However if they block myspace nothing will change. Facebook or IMVU will rise up. Myspace is a way to connect people, charities and organizations, not the end of the world.

Anonymous said...

Has it occurred to you that those responding to the online poll might not be people vested in the school community? And, there is no restriction on the number of votes one person can cast.

There are responses to some of the online polls on the topic from Thailand (home of the 6-year-old prostitute) the could concievably be skewing the online results...

lonewolf said...

Absolutely these are not people vested in the school community. Even a crazed lunatic could not possibly vote 9,000 times in an on-line poll. The point in using the statistics was that there exists convincing evidence that more than 0.1% of the population would oppose this ban. I would strongly suggest that given this sample of non school voters, that the numbers cited by the school principal were distorted. I still believe that the school hand picked vocal supporters of the ban to feed to the news, who did not bother to find a dissenting opinion for quotation.