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University Networks Block Student Project 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the be-less-creative-next-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A computer science student at University College London put together FitFinder as a bit of a joke — it's been described as a cross between Twitter and personal ads, and it rapidly became very popular. The university took exception to this and started by blocking the site from being accessed on campus. Not content with this, a few weeks later it fined the student £300 and had him take the site down completely. Currently, the site is still offline, although there is a petition with several thousand signatures requesting its return. In the meantime, a site called PhitFinder has appeared, claiming to have no link to the original."
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University Networks Block Student Project

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  • PhatFinder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) <.barbara.hudson. ... bara-hudson.com.> on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:06PM (#32476778) Journal
    Just release the code and let people play with it. The uni won't be able to block every site. Now that's Phat!
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:21PM (#32476904)
    If you are old enough to attend college/university you are old enough to do whatever you want. Stop "babysitting" and let students do whatever they please. Universities and colleges exist to educate people and hand them a piece of paper letting them get a job. Thats all they should do. Let students think for themselves, give them facts and have them make their own opinion and do what they want with them.
  • by Pedersen (46721) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:22PM (#32476924) Homepage

    Ya know, I really don't reply much, but the whole "anti-american" thing has gone too far when the damned summary includes something that tells anybody that knows anything about currency that this is not US thing. Here, allow me to quote it:

    they fined the student £300

    You might be especially interested in the currency indicator. That "£" symbol is used to denote the UK currency unit called the "pound". Over in the actual article (I know, nobody ever reads it, but I still did), they say this:

    Rich Martell, 21, a final-year computer sciences student at University College London, has taken the site down under pressure from university authorities, who were concerned that it was distracting students from their studies.

    So, at least in this case, no, it is not an "american thing". It is, most definitely, a "London thing". As London is considerably closer to Europe (and, being part of the UK, is considered to be part of Europe) than any part of the USA, I would have to venture that your assertion

    Here in europe, the university has nothing to do with their students privat projects.

    is now verified to be false. In fact, it might be so far false that this could be considered to be a "European thing", though I'm not sure I'd take it that far myself.

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:24PM (#32476938) Homepage

    Not content with this, a few weeks later they fined the student £300 and had him take the site down completely.

    There's a university with far too much power.

  • by zogger (617870) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:30PM (#32476962) Homepage Journal

    That's a zillion buck idea he had up and running! He should have told them to stuff it. That would have made the site even more popular as word of his telling "the man" to f off spread around his users and their friends. Plenty of time later to go get all the degrees ya want once you are rolling in dough.

  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:31PM (#32476980) Journal

    Universities and colleges exist to educate people and hand them a piece of paper letting them get a job.

    No, they exist to educate people and hand them a piece of paper certifying that they successfully studied there. It happens that this paper helps them to find a job, and surely many want it only for that purpose, but it's not what the paper is for. It's up to the employers to decide whether they care about the paper or not.

  • by bytethese (1372715) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:34PM (#32477002)
    According to the article, the student was fined £300, only the UK uses pounds to my knowledge...
  • by Tanuki64 (989726) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:36PM (#32477012)
    You are absolutely right. Nevertheless, it tells much when everybody automatically assumes this is an American thing.
  • by Luke has no name (1423139) <fox@@@cyberfoxfire...com> on Sunday June 06, 2010 @02:36PM (#32477020)

    That's what I'm thinking. UNLESS the site was being hosted on campus... then it falls within their TOS probably.

    If not, that's total bullshit and lawsuits should ensue.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:15PM (#32477250)
    But the university is educating students about the world out there, also full of control-freaks who don't want you thinking for yourself.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 06, 2010 @03:41PM (#32477382)

    It's intolerant Trolls like yourself that support oppression and censorship. Neoconservatism may be popular, but just because everybody is jumping on the Special Interest Group bandwagon doesn't mean that you have to be as immoral as everybody else.

    If you don't like TV then turn it off, if you don't like Web Sites then don't click on their links. And finally, if you're going to mouth off about an article you should at least read it first (which you obviously haven't).

    Some normal people in this world are getting sick and tired of Right Wing people (whether they be feminists or climate-change deniers) trying to force their intolerant attitudes and lifestyles on other people.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @04:44PM (#32477792)

    Standing up for your rights is one thing, but I'd also argue: Choose your battles wisely.

    In any situation where there is a huge imbalance of power (which there is in this case - the student has paid his tuition fees for the year and there's no obligation for the university to actually hand over the degree certificate), the one thing you do not do if you're in the less-powerful position is piss off the person in the more-powerful position - unless you want to wind up being thoroughly crushed. You make sure the balance of power is restored and then you start pissing them off.

    I'm wondering - if you were to pay under protest and then sue for the money back at a later date (which is quite possible to do in the UK if you're over a barrel), the statute of limitations is six years. Hypothetically (and IANAL), he could pay up under protest now and sue once he's graduated.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @05:27PM (#32478128)

    If you attend a college or university, chances are you are held to a standard of behaviour that prevents you from making the learning institution look like a fool.

    Held by what authority? Please explain the logic that justifies the university - or, for that matter, any organization - demanding complete control over its students lives?

    Admissions papers are full of "Sign here on the X", one of them was your agreement to not be a jackass and accept the college's rulings on your behavior.

    Do you honestly think that you are bound to university's will just because you signed a paper? That they can simply decide that they don't like something you've done so you have to pay them 300 pounds? Seriously?

    Don't like it? There's the door.

    Except that, as you yourself noted, the student and the university have a contract.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 06, 2010 @05:56PM (#32478348)

    If you still think the US's actions in any war up to and including WWII were anything but self-serving, I think you still have a lot to learn. Actually, why limit it to the US? All nations' actions are self-serving.

    Hell, quite often in WWII the US's aim wasn't to win the war or achieve an objective, but to one-up their competition/allies for purpose of national pride, regardless of the lives lost in a general's juvenile pursuit.

  • by Martin Spamer (244245) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @06:05PM (#32478400) Homepage Journal

    By stifling a creative and enterprising endeavour the UCL brings it's self into disrepute.

  • by clustro (1811836) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @06:26PM (#32478576)

    Universities and colleges exist to educate people and hand them a piece of paper letting them get a job.

    No, they exist to educate people and hand them a piece of paper certifying that they successfully studied there. It happens that this paper helps them to find a job, and surely many want it only for that purpose, but it's not what the paper is for. It's up to the employers to decide whether they care about the paper or not.

    While you are technically correct, you are ignoring the fact that the vast majority of the public believes that is what a university is for. 99.9% of people you were to ask "What is the purpose in getting a college degree?" would answer "To get a better job." The balance would say "To learn something new." Hell, I sure as hell didn't go through all those years in engineering to not be able to apply the knowledge. Nobody would spend the gobs of money and time a college degree demands if they didn't anticipate a payoff. The de facto purpose of a university is to prepare its students succeed in a competitive job market.

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Monday June 07, 2010 @02:01AM (#32480998)

    The de facto purpose of a university is to prepare its students succeed in a competitive job market.

    No. The de jure and de facto purpose of a university is preservation and extension of human knowledge. The defacto outcome of university study is an improved job market prospect.

    The difference is important. It is not up to the university to improve students' chances of finding a job, it is merely a gamble most students make.

  • by clustro (1811836) on Monday June 07, 2010 @10:36AM (#32483614)

    What in god's name are you talking about?

    In my senior year of engineering, I had to work with a team on a design project, and we presented it not only to the faculty, but the industrial advisory board - big shots at companies. The sole purpose was to prove to the employers that the department was producing engineers worth hiring.

    I was visiting schools for doctoral programs this past spring, and met many graduate students whose professors had lined up a job or good post-doc for them afterward. That's one of the things that made the programs I visited so popular - they don't leave you hanging on welfare after you blow 5 years of your life on an advanced engineering degree. A good school helps you get a job - either by the prestige of the degree, or direct intervention by faculty and staff. This is the 21st-century, not the 16th.

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