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Proposes Institute Policy on Pornography

Proposed Institute Policy on Pornography

It is the policy of MIT that no pornographic films shall be shown in common areas at the Institute, including such areas in MIT dormitories. Nothing in this policy is intended to restrict the right of students to show pornographic films in the privacy of their own rooms. Exceptions to this policy will be made for screening done for educational purposes as part of a class or other organized educational activity, or in connection with disciplinary proceedings under this policy.

Pornography is difficult to define with precision, because many factors influence the character of a film. The intent of this policy is to exclude the films whose primary theme is to condone the subordination or abuse of any person through substantial use of sexually explicit material. The following characteristics, especially in combination, would be indicative of pornography as defined here: Subjects are (1) presented in a dehumanized way as sexual objects, things, or commodities; (2) presented as sexual objects who enjoy humiliation; (3) presented as experiencing sexual pleasure in being raped; (4) presented as sexual objects tied up, cut, mutilated, bruised, or physically abused in other ways. Films abusive of women are of particular concern both because of their preponderance, and because the incidents at MIT that have caused the most disruption of student lives have involved material of this type.

Any member of the Institute community may bring a complaint of any violation of this policy in accordance with normal Institute procedures, including recourse to the Office of the Dean for Student Affairs (ODSA) and the Committee on Discipline (COD). If there is doubt about whether or not a film is pornographic, ODSA and COD may, in appropriate situations, choose to invite members of the community to give their views on the question of whether it falls within the above definition of pornography. ODSA or COD shall then decide in accordance with this policy whether or not a violation has occurred.

If ODSA or COD finds that a violation has occurred, it shall determine appropriate sanctions as in other cases of misconduct.

Anyone who wishes to show a film, but is uncertain as to its pornographic content, has the option to ask for an advisory opinion in advance from ODSA.