February 9, 2012:
The recent actions by the ASU administration to block access to the Change.org tuition petition are despicable. Worse, the University’s justification for these actions was a bold-faced lie.
For the University to block an online petition just because it advocates something they may not like is the height of institutional censorship, which is contrary to the most deeply held virtues of the academy.
Does AT&T disconnect your phone call if you’re telling a friend that their service is overpriced? Does your MacBook stop working if you go to download a Linux distribution? Of course not.
Worse, far worse, is ASU’s claim that they blocked access to this website to conserve their network resources. This is a lie, plain and simple. They know it, and they purposefully lied to the University community anyway. This website uses a miniscule amount of bandwidth. Students and faculty transfer tens of gigabytes of data without thinking twice, or stream multi-GB movies from Netflix. Compared to these everyday “acceptable” uses of the network, the amount of bandwidth consumed by Change.org‘s petition is utterly trivial — maybe a few hundred kilobytes. This has nothing to do with the cost of tuition at ASU. It’s about censorship and about using lies to justify it.
Sun Devils, you deserve better. You deserve for your university to foster open discourse, something that has been cherished by academics for a thousand years, and not censor ideas just because they’re afraid of them. You also deserve for your university, to whom you each pay thousands of dollars a year, to not lie to your faces about what they’re doing and why.
Ph.D., Computational Physics
Originally published February 8, 2012 at 5:18 pm at statepress.com