ICCSD’s Discord ban recap

WSS recaps the ongoing news of the ban on the platform Discord in the ICCSD.

Image+by+Alexander+Shatov+used+with+permission

Image by Alexander Shatov used with permission

The Iowa City Community School District announced that Discord would be temporarily banned on district-owned devices and on district networks for a week starting April 15. The temporary suspension of the app was to decide whether the ban should be permanent.

The cause of the ban was in regards to student safety concerns, as there were previous situations involving harassment on Discord at the junior high level.

Training students to recognize and report bullying is a much better way to reduce harassment while not reducing students’ access to a widely used social platform.”

— Peter Adams '22

Although there was no problem deciding to keep the ban at the elementary level, the ban was lifted for students at the high schools. Meanwhile, for the junior highs, the District Tech Committee will meet again on May 20 to decide whether the ban will remain permanent or not. 

West High students had differing opinions on whether the decision to ban Discord at the elementary and junior high levels. 

 

 

One side is against banning Discord, stating it is one of the safer platforms for communication as well as having more capabilities over software like Google Hangouts and Zoom. They also bring the argument that students will try to find alternate ways to access banned programs or alternative sites to use.

On the other hand, some students believe Discord is toxic and can potentially be taken advantage of because you don’t have to use your real name. Students against Discord also brought up that the age requirement was 13 years or older, and that elementary students shouldn’t be using it in the first place.

Many extracurriculars at the high schools and some at the junior highs have used Discord during the pandemic as a way to share announcements and as a platform for practice for clubs such as debate club. High school debate coaches from West High and City High spoke at the School Board Meeting on April 13 to oppose the ban and how they’ve used Discord responsibly during debate competitions.

With acknowledgement that banning Discord would disrupt clubs and extracurriculars, the ICCSD’s Technology Committee searched for and found a solution for the issue. Their solution allowed them to withhold the ban at the high school level, with that decision being approved on April 22.

Discord was first released in 2015 as a social gaming platform for people to communicate with calls and messages over the internet. Discord is now a popular and frequently used all-purpose platform with several servers open to the community and private chats for friends and family to use. 

For every requested ban of a site or application, the tech committee follows a process. According to their policy, when an administrator or teacher requests to ban something, the district has to decide whether the service can fit into a ban as per the content filtering policy. If it does, action is taken immediately, whether it is temporary or not.

 

 

Discord is not the first application to be banned by the district, nor will it likely be the last. While an application can be banned, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be permanently blocked.