Update: Catholic School and MySpace

St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic School in Michigan has not just banned student use of MySpace. Rather, the ban extends to any “personal internet site.”

The school’s webpage states:

At the beginning of each school year, students and a parent are required to sign the school’s Internet Use Policy.  The policy discussed the expectations of the school regarding the students’ use of the Internet at school and at home.  It also acknowledged that, “ultimately, parents are responsible to set and convey the standards their children should follow when using all media and information sources.”  It was STRONGLY encouraged that parents monitor the students’ home Internet use.  It was also stated that the following behaviors are not permitted:

  • Sending or displaying offensive messages or pictures ON OR OFF the St. Hugo network.
  • Using inappropriate language to harass, insult or attack others.

The “myspace.com” sites of many of the students violate these rules.  Therefore, it is the RULE of St. Hugo School that NO ENROLLED STUDENT SHALL have a “myspace.com” webpage or any similar type personal internet site.  Students were informed on March 20, 2007 that they must delete their “myspace.com” accounts if they wish to continue to attend school at St. Hugo.  If a family chooses to allow their children to continue their “myspace.com” account, they will not be allowed to continue as students at St. Hugo.

7 thoughts on “Update: Catholic School and MySpace

  1. HAHAHAHAHA.

    I guess that answers my question about what to do about teachers with a myspace.

    *Whew* I’d hate to think that would keep anyone from being hired. 🙂

    I still contend that the policy is entirely unenforceable. They’d have to pay somebody full time to watch myspace, livejournal, facebook, friendster, orkut, and any others that come up, and even then they couldn’t enforce this to an extent that would actually get people to take this seriously. Do they expect all of the kids and parents to be honest about this? Please. As William pointed out in his comments to your previous post on this matter, there are some parents out there who will permit some pretty heinous things.

    If there are parents who will do anything from lying about an absence to worse things such as ignoring alcohol policies at proms or paying for their kids’ keg parties, the school will have no power to enforce this policy unless the kids themselves decide to turn Dean’s Witness. There are kids, yes even at Catholic schools, who get drunk, get high, get pregnant, and get abortions and get away with it, and more of them are doing that than running away with creepy men they meet on the internet.

    I should also add, that I have personally witnessed a situation in which school administrators used information that students carelessly posted on myspace to avert problems—BIG problems. That is a possibility that should be taken into consideration as well.

    I will say I admire their determination, though. Their hearts are in the right place, but their good sense has already left for the summer.

  2. I think the policy has merit.

    First, as a private school, they have a right to have a policy of this sort. Attendance at the school is voluntary, and when one attends such an institution there is always a ‘social contract’ which guides the bases for attendance.

    As a parent, I have had a lot of policies with my kids which were difficult or impossible to enforce. However, it was my duty to articulate these policies nonetheless. Such as a policy that my son not entertain discussions of sexual play with a classmate who proffers seductive suggestions. Given what appears on “MySpace”, this would be a parallel policy, alerting the kids not to associate with this kind of behavior. It’s not absolutely enforceable, but moreso than my policy against lewd talk.

    Part of any institution’s value is the environment, or atmosphere, or internal “culture” that develops. There are a number of policies which address these points directly or indirectly. A dress code, or the mandate for uniforms, is a popular measure of this type. Beyond that, the character and attitudes of the students has a lot to do with the environment. A policy of this type addresses the latter. Let those who object simply not apply.

    It is regrettable that a policy which reaches into the “private lives” of students is even deemed necessary. But given the broken culture that we live in, sometimes we have to take stands that our own parents would never have had to consider. Within my lifetime, I have experienced a culture in the US where morals, values of decency, and values in general were far more universal than they are today. And there were fewer opportunities to do lots of damage to oneself and one’s neighbor. I’m not saying the culture was perfect, but policies such as this wouldn’t have to be dealt with in that environment.

  3. You’re not really addressing the issue. This school is saying no child can have any kind of personal webpage, even if their parents approve and supervise. There are all kinds of webpages on the internet. There are many that promote Christianity. There are many by teens that promote chastity. This is also part of the environment. This is a ban on a media, not on an “environment” and not on “lewd talk.”

  4. I’m reminded of when I attended a Christian college that allowed students to have their own TV sets in their dorm rooms. I actually had two TVs and two VCRs, for I sold copies of a video I made about a mission trip out of my dorm room and used the earnings to finance my next mission trip. I found it ironic, though, that had I, like my older sister, attended a sister college within my denomination I would have been forbidden to possess a tv and would have been unable to secure the missionary funds I needed (even though that college then had “missionary” in its very name).

    Of course today that issue would be moot wherever I attended, not because the rules have changed (though my sister’s alma mater is now doing a lot of work with animation and cinematography) but because everything’s digital now. Students can watch and burn DVDs on their dorm room PCs, and more and more tv shows are available online. I only hope that they’ve retained the spirit of the law–that students need to balance education with recreation–while the letter of it became irrelevant.

  5. See, I’m just too old.

    When I was attending the Rockford SDA church school, 16-mm movies were rented from time to time and shown in the gym. With pauses for popcorn in between reels. In 8th grade we went to Andrews and Battle Creek for our class trip, and some of my friends went to the computer lab to play “Star Trek” on the computer. Home video games consisted of “Pong.”

    When I was at Broadview Academy, one nerdy student had a TRS-80, and I don’t think there was a TV in the boys’ dorm. Video games were only in arcades.

    At AUC, there was a common TV in the dorm, preference given to sports, restricted hours. No one had computers in their rooms; there was a computer lab, though, which we could use (I learned Pascal and Decword). Pac-Man was the rage at the arcades.

    I used a typewriter through both master’s programs and didn’t have time for TV (though we had a black and white Zenith with rabbit ears).

  6. Tompaul has a good point. There are kids who use the internet and all its vast resources for good (myspace included), or if not for good, at least for nothing evil. I, for instance have been using the internet since I was a teenager to keep in touch with friends whom I have actually met. I keep strictly away from people I don’t know. This is what we call smart internet use, and it happens that I learned it from my very wise (despite not being internet savvy) parents.

    It makes good sense for schools and parents to ban immoral, or even idiotic behavior both online and off. I do not dispute that. The school should do whatever it can in that area, and being a private one has waaaaay more power to do so than most public schools.

    However, it makes little sense to ban an entire medium, which is useful to many people because some people get a lot of news coverage for misusing it. Suppose the school banned cable TV? There’s plenty of immoral drivel on there that students should not associate with, but then they’d also lose access to TV Land and EWTN, and that would be most unfortunate.

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