LibWEB

The Diamond Library houses many computer clusters that are available for public use

UNH junior and English literature major Kelsey MacDonald was on her way to buy a bagel from Zeke’s when she discovered an unidentified man watching pornography on a Dimond Library computer on Sunday, April 17. Appalled, MacDonald ran to the circulation desk to alert someone of what was going on, only to be told, “he technically has the right to do that,” by a librarian.

Unsatisfied, MacDonald descended to the second floor to grab a camera from her workplace, the Parker Media Lab. She then returned to the third floor where the man remained, openly viewing distasteful pornographic material on a university desktop, and stationed herself behind a bookshelf that allowed her to capture the scene on film.

With damning evidence, she proceeded to call the UNH Police. MacDonald said she waited nearly 45 minutes before two campus police officers finally arrived to escort the man out of the library.

The entire ordeal took about an hour and a half to quell.

No laws were violated, according to UNH Police Chief Paul Dean.

“However, he did violate the library policy on acceptable use which is to provide a safe environment for students to be academically successful,” Dean said.

While Dimond staff does not condone the use of library equipment for watching inappropriate adult movies, it is not their job to ‘police’ the building.

“Our practice is to provide a safe place for students to get their work done using our resources,” assistant dean for library administration, Tracey Lauder said.  “If anyone is feeling unsafe they can tell us and we will call the police.”

Lauder explained that it isn’t easy for library staff to discern what the computers are specifically being used for. “It’s very easy for someone to quickly change [his or her] screen as someone is walking by,” she said.

Before using a UNH computer, one must sign the university’s “Acceptable Use Policy for Information Technology Resources.” The purpose of the policy is to ensure that the university’s information technology (IT) infrastructure promotes basic missions in “teaching, research, administration, and service.”

As noted in section C of the University System of New Hampshire’s (USNH) Online Policy Manual, a primary mission of the university is to support the creation and dissemination of knowledge.” In other words, publically accessible university computers are meant for academic based work and not for watching porn.

“He had to have read and accepted the terms of the policy,” MacDonald said. “So by watching porn on the computers he violated university conduct and should have been kicked out way before the police arrived.”

The man was escorted out of Dimond Library after being informed that his activities were making others uncomfortable and has been banned from the library.

“The male was escorted off campus and has been told he is not allowed back on campus or he will be arrested,” UNH Police Officer Tyler Daniel wrote in an e-mail to MacDonald.

MacDonald said this was not the first time she had reported the man for improper library behavior. “I reported the same man on April 3 for doing the exact same thing,” she said. “This time in particular there was a mother with her children, who seemed to be about seven or eight years old, who also complained, and he was asked to leave by the library staff.”

Freshman Victoria Franks, an employee at the circulation desk of Dimond Library, said that reports of similar incidents stretch much further back than this April. Shockingly, she said this has actually been happening since October 2015.

“In the fall I was doing an occupancy count and I walked past him and saw that he had been looking at cartoon porn photos but I didn’t say anything,” Franks said. “The following Saturday night I did the occupancy count again and saw him looking at the photos again.”

Franks said she reported the man to her boss, who then called the UNH Police. According to Franks, the responding officers simply told the man he could not use library computers for such purposes. He then got angry and proceeded to exit the building, Franks said.

It is not certain if the man seen on Sunday, April 17 by MacDonald is the same man that was seen several times during the fall 2015 semester. What is certain is that the use of library computers to openly display pornography is unsuitable for a professional learning environment.

For many people, MacDonald included, the lenient handling of occurrences like this is incredibly frustrating.

“It’s not common for the police to be involved in these matters,” Dean said.  “Unless of course the patron does not comply with the policy and ignores the request of the staff.”

MacDonald sees this as a worrisome lack of justice.

“Why has it taken so long for this man to be banned from campus for expressing his sexuality in all of our faces?” MacDonald asked. “Why do people seem to think that he has the right to express his sexuality when women are forced to breastfeed in a separate room; Why is there a difference?”

As the semester comes to an end and Dimond becomes saturated with students studying for finals, library staff will be kept busy handling the increased volume of activity. Any guest, student, faculty or staff member that is made to feel uncomfortable while visiting the library should not hesitate to report to the UNH Police.

Executive Editor