Computer Usage

Computer Use Policy




This document provides guidelines for appropriate use of computer facilities and services at Rollins College. It is not a comprehensive document covering all aspects of computer use. It offers principles to help guide members of the Rollins College community, and specific policy statements that serve as a reference points. It will be modified as new questions and situations arise. The policies articulated here have been in place for several years, some in writing and others borne of practice.

While the proliferation of computers and information technologies does not alter basic codes of behavior in academic life, it does place some issues in new contexts. Using these technologies enables people to do varied things-both good and bad-more easily. They are an enormously rich resource for innovation in the furtherance of Rollins College's academic mission. They also offer new forums for the College's commitment to the expression and discussion of a wide diversity of ideas and opinions. But they increase the risks of actions, deliberate or not, that are harmful in various ways, including:
  (a) interference with the rights of others;
  (b) violation of the law;
  (c) interference with the mission of the College; or
  (d) endangering the integrity of the College's information computer network. The guidelines that follow in the next section of this document seek to forge the link between established codes of conduct and use of new technologies. Computer networking has greatly expanded our ability to access and exchange information, requiring more vigilant efforts and perhaps more secure safeguards to protect individuals' rights of privacy. Property as well as privacy rights may be infringed whenever files or data belonging to others, or the electronic identity of others, however gained, are used without authorization; moreover, while freedom of inquiry and expression are fundamental principles of academic life, assaults upon the personal integrity of individual members of the academic community and dissemination of offensive materials may undermine the foundations of that community. Other actions taken by individuals may, under some circumstances, jeopardize the integrity of the computer network and the ability of others to communicate using this system. Accordingly, the guidelines that follow seek to both preserve the freedom to inquire and share information and sustain the security and integrity of individuals within the community and the computer system itself.

While some of the guidelines therefore call for respectful and responsible use of the computer networks to protect the rights of individuals, others warn against actions that may violate the law: users within the academic community must understand the perils of illegal use, exchange, or display of copyrighted, deceptive, defamatory, or obscene materials on a web page or through other electronic communication channels.

The community at large has rights and expectations that must be considered. When individuals misrepresent either themselves or the College, or when they act by computer in a manner unacceptable within the College or in the larger community, the integrity and mission of the College itself is endangered.

Finally, the guidelines seek to protect the integrity of the College's information systems themselves: the computing or networking resources need to be accessible and secure for appropriate uses consistent with the mission of the College; the usurpation of these resources for personal gain or without authorization is unacceptable. Moreover, even the individual right to privacy may, when personal files may need to be accessed for troubleshooting purposes, be overridden by authorized personnel to protect the integrity of the College's computer systems.


Principles and Guidelines

  1. Respect the rights and sensibilities of others
    1. Electronic mail should adhere to the same standards of conduct as any other form of mail. Respect others you contact electronically by avoiding distasteful, inflammatory, harassing or otherwise unacceptable comments. (In an academic community, the free and open exchange of ideas and viewpoints preserved by the concept of academic freedom may sometimes prove distasteful, disturbing or offensive to some. This policy is not intended to restrict such exchange.)
    2. Others have a right to know who is contacting them. .....
      a. The From Line must include an accurate originating domain name (i.e. identify the advertiser) and also include
      the email address of the sender.
      b. The Subject Line must accurately reflect the content of the message. The message must be identifiable and
      cannot be misleading.
      c. The content of the message must be clearly identifiable as an advertisement or a solicitation.
      d. The physical postal address of the advertisement or solicitation must be included.
      e. An opportunity to "opt-out" or "unsubscribe" must be available.

      Under a broad interpretation of the CANSPAM Act promotions for association events or educational publications fall in the category of commercial emails. The Act currently does not exclude nonprofit organizations and similarly does not protect email communications sent by them in furtherance of their purposes.
    3. Respect the privacy of others and their accounts. Do not access or intercept files or data of others without permission. Do not use the password of others or access files or e-mail under false identity.
    4. Distribution of excessive amounts of unsolicited mail is inappropriate.
    5. While the College encourages respect for the rights and sensibilities of others, it cannot protect individuals against the existence or receipt of materials that may be offensive to them. Those who make use of electronic communications may come across or be recipients of material they find offensive or simply annoying.
  2. Be aware of the legal implications of your computer use.
    1. The Internet enables users to disseminate material worldwide. Thus the impact of dissemination on the Internet is often far broader than that of a statement made on paper or in routine conversation. Keep in mind that a larger audience means a greater likelihood that someone may object with or without legal basis.
    2. Much of what appears on the Internet is protected by copyright law regardless of whether the copyright is expressly noted. Users should generally assume that material is copyrighted unless they know otherwise and not copy or disseminate copyrighted material without permission. Copyright protection also applies to much software, which is often licensed to the College with specific limitations on its use. Both individual users and the College may, in some circumstances, be held legally responsible for violations of copyright.
    3. Many other state and federal laws, including those prohibiting deceptive advertising, use of others' trademarks, defamation, violations of privacy, and obscenity apply to network-based communications.
    4. Because the Internet is international, it can be argued that the (often more restrictive) laws of other countries may apply. This does not mean that members of the College community should be censored by extremely restrictive foreign laws, but in some situations the College must take into consideration whether violations of foreign laws may affect the activities of the College in those countries.
  3. Respect the mission of the College in the larger community
    1. The College makes Internet resources available to students, faculty and staff to further the College's educational, research, service and related missions. While incidental personal use is permissible in most settings, these resources are generally available only for College-related activities.
    2. The College does not monitor the content of web pages, electronic mail or other on-line communications and is not responsible for the views expressed by individual users. Under certain circumstances, however, the College may be held liable if it fails to take reasonable remedial steps after it learns of illegal uses of its computer facilities. Use computer resources lawfully.
    3. Remember that you are responsible for all activity involving your account. Keep your account secure and private. Do not use identifying data or common words as a password; your password should be difficult to crack or otherwise guess either by individuals or by sophisticated computer programs.
    4. The College is the custodian of a wide array of personal and financial data concerning its students, staff, faculty and patients, as well as the College itself. Respect the College's obligations of confidentiality as well as your own. Only those with authorization may access, communicate or use confidential information.
    5. Material posted on web pages is generally accessible and thus deserves even greater thought and care than your private electronic mail. Remember that, absent restrictions, your web page is available to anyone, anywhere, and act accordingly.
    6. The College has a right to expect that computer users will properly identify themselves. Computer accounts are assigned and identified to individuals. Don't misrepresent yourself.
  4. Do not harm the integrity of the College's computer systems and networks.
    1. Today's information technology is a shared resource. Respect the needs of others when using computer and network resources. Do not tamper with facilities and avoid any actions that interfere with the normal operations of computers, networks, and facilities. No device may be plugged into any campus network jack with the permission of the I.T. networking staff.
    2. Avoid excessive use of computer resources. They are finite and others deserve their share. Chain mail, junk mail, and similar inappropriate uses of College resources are not acceptable. Web pages that are accessed to an excessive degree can be a drain on computer resources and, except where significant to the College's mission, may require the College to ask that they be moved to a private Internet provider. The College provides Internet resources for academic and research use; other uses of the Internet may be restricted so access is available for its primary purpose.
    3. Although a respect for privacy is fundamental to the College's policies, understand that almost any information can in principle be read or copied; that some user information is maintained in system logs as a part of responsible computer system maintenance; that the College must reserve the right to examine computer files, and that, in rare circumstances, the College may be compelled by law or policy to examine even personal and confidential information maintained on College computing facilities (similarly, we could be asked to show information available on paper files).

      In rare instances where there is sufficient evidence of a crime or breach in College policy, a review of the electronic files of a faculty member, staff member or student may be initiated by or thru the appropriate Vice-President. A committee will be convened consisting of the Director of Campus Security, the Associate VP of Information Technology and the appropriate departmental representative(s) (HR for employee issues and/or the appropriate Dean for faculty or student issues). The committee will discuss the case and present their findings to the VP of Finance and Treasurer who will make the decision whether or not to allow such access. If there is any question of academic freedom issues, the Provost will be notified and may participate in the process at her/his choosing.
    4. You are granted privileges and responsibilities with your account. While these vary between groups, the use of College resources for personal commercial gain or for partisan political purposes (not including the expression of personal political views, debate and the like) is inappropriate and possibly illegal.
    5. Individual College computer systems have varying resources and demands. Some have additional and sometimes more restrictive guidelines applicable to their own user.


A.     All College codes of conduct apply to information technology as well as to other forms of communication and activity.

B.     Systems managers may be empowered to suspend some or all privileges associated with computer use in cases of misuse or threat to the integrity of all or part of the College's information management resources.

C.    Before any permanent action is taken against a user, the user will be advised of the basis for the proposed action and given an opportunity to respond. Concerns about such actions may be raised through the usual administrative or academic channels associated with the department, facility or resource in question.

D.    Where a violation of College policies or applicable law appears to warrant action beyond a suspension or elimination of computer privileges, the matter may be referred to a supervisor, administrator or College disciplinary body with appropriate authority or to law enforcement authorities.

E.     Complaints or concerns about another's use of College computer resources should be directed to the administrator responsible for the facility or resource in question.

Rollins is grateful to Washington University for allowing us to use their policy statement as a basis for our own.

For questions about this policy, send e-mail to Pat Schoknecht, Chief Information Officer for Rollins College.



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