One day, Olivia Bornstein ’17 was sitting in the ARC, perusing through the Internet in search of a new turquoise bikini. She typed in lspace.com in hopes of finding the perfect suit. She waited for the page to load, but instead of beach photos and bathing suits, her Safari webpage informed her that the site was blocked. Frustrated, she tried victoriassecret.com, but to no avail. That site was blocked too.
Recently, a lot of students were complaining about the blockage of specific sites, such as swimwear and lingerie. However, when staff members of the UltraViolet brought up students’ frustrations of not being able to access swimwear sites, Director of Administrative and Academic Technology Stuart Posin discussed the issue with fellow administrators and eventually unblocked the sites. Lspace.com and victoriassecret.com are now currently able to be accessed on the School network. Posin emphasized that students and faculty are welcome to appeal to tech administrators to unblock sites that they need, especially for academic reasons.
Since Barracuda allows Posin to manually unblock specific sites, Posin said he has a list of fifty or so websites that he has unblocked due to people’s requests.
Posin commented that he appreciates it when students come to talk to him about unblocking websites that they need.
“[It is] great! [I] welcome it!” he stated.
In May of 2012, Posin found and installed Marlborough’s current Internet filter, Barracuda Web Filter, to block certain types of websites and to prevent malware and viruses.
Previously, the School used a program called WatchGuard. The system, however, was cumbersome, difficult to manage, and also far more restrictive on sites – it blocked all forms of social media – so Posin replaced it with Barracuda Web Filter. Posin stated that there were two main reasons in the first place to begin using a website filter.
“The reason that we put in the web-filter was two-fold: we receive money from the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] E-rate, and they give us money to help pay for things, like our Internet connection. One of their requirements is to have a filter in place… The other reason that we bought [the filter] is to try to keep malware and bad viruses off of our network,” Posin said.
The current Barracuda filter blocks a range of topics from Pornography, Violence and Terrorism, to Malicious Sites.
Although students complain the School blocks a vast range of sites, Posin points out that the School does not block the majority of categories that Barracuda would allow for and that Marlborough’s program is much more open-minded than other schools’ programs. “I think we have a very liberal view of filtering. The intent is to never get in the way of the academic program. If we get in the way of [students’] free time, and things like shopping, that’s certainly not the intent; but, it’s not my biggest concern,” Posin explained.
Now students often find it frustrating that they are not allowed to access school-related searches, such as images or forums.
“I remember I was trying to look up a definition for a word… and I went on this forum, and for some reason it was blocked, and it was really annoying… I recall doing homework at times and not being able to visit certain websites,” Taylor Pirtle ’17 explained.
Other students agreed with Pirtle, explaining that they were unable to use images found on the Internet or were restricted from websites they needed for school research projects.
Isabel Clements ’17 feels that the fact that web filters systems even have the option to block the category of swimwear is not appropriate.
“We’re girls. We have to buy bras… It’s ignorant to think that Victoria’s Secret is only used for lingerie, when in reality, everyone here wears a bra, and everyone should have the right to buy a bra,” she said.