Phil Schwartz was pleasantly surprised Friday morning when he was able to access the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube on his laptop on the BYU campus.
"We are college students now," said Schwartz, a Chinese major from Martinez, Calif. "We can judge for ourselves."
BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said the site was unblocked Friday morning following a recent administration-level review of the policy to block the site on campus.
"Given the educational information and materials available, the university determined to make the service available," Jenkins said.
YouTube allows users to upload videos of all types for public viewing, as long as the material isn't defamatory, pornographic or in violation of copyright. Citing concerns with questionable content as well as bandwidth issues, BYU blocked YouTube on campus almost from site's inception in late 2005.
While many students view YouTube as a classic Internet time-waster, some students and faculty members say the Web site has content that has educational value.
"I remember being in a class in political science and the professor wanted to show some videos of Barack Obama's campaign," Schwartz said. "But he couldn't because they were on YouTube."
Debbie Harrison, who teaches English and English usage at BYU, was happy to hear the site had been unblocked. Harrison has been able to use YouTube for classroom presentations, but only after making arrangements prior to class.
"It was so much work that often I didn't bother," she said. "There are so many things I haven't been able to do because of that. There are samples of modern word usage that are just wonderful that I haven't been able to access from class."
Allen Sangster, a Latin American studies major from Stevensville, Mont., said he used YouTube mostly to watch sports highlights, but there were also some legitimate educational purposes.
"There's been a number of times that I have needed it on campus for presentations," Sangster said.
Kalli Jenson, a psychology major from Salt Lake City, speculated that the recent entry of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints onto YouTube may have made a difference. The church, which owns BYU, established its own YouTube channel, Mormon Messages, earlier this year.
"I am sure they would want the students to look at that," Jenson said. "For some people, the campus Internet is their only source of the Internet."
At least one student regretted the decision, not because of questionable content on the site, but because it is a distraction.
"I kind of liked it when they blocked it," said Scott Parker, of Mililani, Hawaii. "It's kind of a waste of time."