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Time for Higher Education to Be Heard on Net Neutrality!

"Where are the letters? Why isn't higher education contacting Congress?" -- Senate Staff Member (May 24, 2006)

The above quote is part of an actual conversation between a Senate aide and a member of the EDUCAUSE policy office concerning the future of the Internet (ie. Network Neutrality). After months of tireless work by EDUCAUSE members and staff, association, public interest and industry partners, this may be our community's last opportunity to have an impact with Congress as both houses are expected to see movement on their respective bills. 

At this critical juncture, your congressmen and senators have heard enough from the "Beltway Bandits". They need to hear from their constituents, and that means YOU! The only way most of Congress will realize net neutrality is a REAL issue is if they hear YOUR CONCERNS, YOUR STORIES.

EDUCAUSE members recently received a version of an e-mail (see below) by a member of the EDUCAUSE executive team.  With busy day jobs, it's easy to cast such pleas aside, even when they are rare and come from respected leaders in the higher education community.  However, if there is anytime to share your passion for what an open Internet means for education and innovation, the TIME IS NOW!

Let your elected representatives know what net neutrality means for educating your children, their children, and the future of this country.  It only will take a few minutes, but the results could last a lifetime.

 
Dear Colleague,

I am writing to ask your help, as your institution's primary representative to EDUCAUSE, in supporting higher education's position on net neutrality legislation pending in Congress. Some of you will have received similar messages posted to various EDUCAUSE listservs.

I am sensitive to the volume of messages we send our primary representatives, but this involves critical action I hope you will undertake at your earliest convenience.

It is important for you and other appropriate senior officials at your institution to e-mail or fax by June 2 a message of support for pending net neutrality legislation. E-mail and fax are the best ways to send the message, since paper mail to government offices is delayed for decontamination. Phone calls to legislators are also encouraged.

Please pass along the request to faculty and other colleagues, as well.

Congress is debating a variety of bills related to "network neutrality," the idea that the Internet should remain a nondiscriminatory, open network. Having paid for network connections, Internet users should be able to send and receive all lawful content without additional charges or limitations based on why and with whom they are communicating. The large telephone and cable companies, however, have developed business plans that would radically alter this model of the Internet, interfering, for example, with distance learning, inter-institutional research, and even day-to-day class participation by off-campus students.

For more general information about network neutrality, see the EDUCAUSE resource page at <http://www.educause.edu/netneutrality>.

For an excellent one-page summary, see this paper by Mike Roberts:

<http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/CSD4578.pdf>

EDUCAUSE, Internet2, and other associations have been active in supporting network neutrality legislation, and I encourage you to join this effort. At <http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/word/CSD4579.doc>

you will find a draft letter along with instructions for how to find the addresses of your U.S. senators and representatives. Please consider e-mailing or faxing this letter, with or without modifications, to one or all of them. Consider also contacting your campus government affairs representative to encourage your president, provost, or chief research officer to do the same.

Given the legislative schedule, these messages should ideally be received by Friday, June 2, so there is very little time to act.

Thank you for your help.
Brian L. Hawkins
President
EDUCAUSE

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