Arizona State University Censoring Online Petition Site

Rebecca Burns

Though officials at Arizona State University claim that they are blocking access to Change​.org, the popular online petition site, because it was found to be a source of spam e‑mails, students point to a notable coincidence: Change​.org is also currently hosting a petition calling on the university to decrease the cost of tuition. After Arizona State University student Eric Haywood used Change​.org to circulate a petition called, Arizona State University: Reduce The Costs Of Education For Arizona State University Students,” the university began blocking e‑mails from the site. “Although the individual who sent the email may not consider himself a spammer, he acquired a significant number of ASU email addresses, which he used to send unsolicited, unwanted email, which is the definition of spam,” ASU spokeswoman Julie Newberg told the Downtown Devil.
But now, the university is reportedly blocking the entire site.  Free Press, a media reform organization, has taken up the cause and is calling on the university to reinstate access to the site immediately.Josh Levy, the group’s internet campaigns director, writes:The fact is, disabling access to any lawful site violates the spirit and principles of Net Neutrality, chills academic freedom and possibly rises to the level of a First Amendment violation. It’s astonishing that ASU President Michael M. Crow would allow this to happen — and that’s why Free Press and Change​.org are urging him to stop his school’s censorship immediately. 

Rebecca Burns is an In These Times contributing editor and award-winning investigative reporter. Her work has appeared in Bloomberg, the Chicago Reader, ProPublica, The Intercept, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter @rejburns.

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