EPHRAIM -- Snow College has targeted pornographic and game sites on the Internet for seclusion from student, faculty and staff computers. College officials say it is one of the first public colleges in the nation to issue such a ban. Some private and church schools have blocked pornographic sites. Computers are being equipped with a blocking system at Snow College in Ephraim and will be blocked at Snow College South in Richfield to assure that information not related to the academic mission of the institution is not accessed, said Bruce Peterson, chief information officer at Snow College. The primary objective is to free up more computer space and "use the resources that are provided wisely and for the express purposes for which they are provided." He said there has been no feedback from the decision to block the sites. "We received a letter from the ACLU, answered it and explained our reasons, and we haven't heard anything more from them," he said. "We are not attempting to censor anyone. We are merely trying to protect the bandwidth at the college, which is a valuable and very limited resource paid for by the taxpayers." He described the bandwidth as a pipeline where digital information flows to all the computers on the campus. Peterson said the college officials had three options and "we make no apologies for our efforts to optimize the utilization of this finite resource. Our only regret is in the misinterpretation of our objectives by the media and others who would have the world believe that we are deliberately attempting to throw blinders on our college family in order to enforce a narrow set of values." He outlined the options as (l) remain status quo; (2) purchase more computers and network bandwidth; and (3) reduce nonacademic and nonessential use of the network bandwidth. "We don't have the finances to purchase more computers so chose the third option. This meant removing as much nonacademic, nonessential traffic from the network as possible." Peterson explained the software that blocks the sites creates a dictionary of words in the Web site address and the words then become "triggers," which send messages notifying there may be a problem. College officials then visit Web sites to determine whether they are in violation of the institution's "Acceptable Use Policy." The policy was reviewed and approved by the Utah State Attorney General's Higher Education legal staff and approved by the vote of the College Council and Snow College Board of Trustees. The policy further states that violation "will result in suspension or revocation of utilization privileges, administrative discipline or immediate termination of the violator's relationship with Snow College and could lead to criminal and civic prosecution." It concludes that while the college will exercise diligence to protect privacy, "any person utilizing any college information technology facility understands and agrees that they are specifically waiving any expectation or right to privacy in their communications. . . ." Among unauthorized uses of information technology are uses involving communications, materials, information, data or images prohibited by legal authority as obscene, pornographic, threatening, abusive, harassing, discriminatory, or in violation of any other college policies; uses infringing on the rights or liberties of another; deliberately wasting or overloading computing resources; illegal or criminal use of any kind; and displaying obscene material in a computer lab or other on-campus location. Peterson said it was discovered that 35 percent of campus computer use was on things totally unrelated to academics. "The stuff we are blocking can only be described as truly hard-core pornography," he said. "Having to see and review it has been the miserable part of this job. All the sites are not blocked by the software, but nothing is foolproof. "I really didn't look forward to blocking sites on the Web, but I have been given the task of trying to get the most out of a fixed resource." The college has an appeal process to assure that individual rights will be protected. If anyone can show just cause to visit a blocked Web site for academic purposes he or she has the right to appeal. If approved, any of the active work stations can then be cleared for unlimited access. The program seems to have been highly effective in discouraging people from using computers to access pornography or games. Initially, as many as two dozen sites were blocked each day, but now only one is flagged every few days. For example, 4,920 different sites were recently visited by officials and 138 were singled out and blocked. "Our job is not to police and punish, it's simply to block unnecessary information," Peterson said.