Responsible Use Guidelines

Responsible Use of Ursinus College Information Technology Resources

This document, “Responsible Use of Technology Resources”, applies to any member of the Ursinus community, whether at the college or elsewhere, and refers to all Information Technology resources, whether individually controlled or shared, stand alone or networked. 

This document is the base set of guidelines for use of any resources offered by all service providers across campus. This includes Information Technology but does not necessarily exclude any other service provider. Service providers may supplement this document with more specific guidelines for their users.
As members of the Ursinus community, and in accordance with this Proper Use policy, all users have the responsibility to use information services in an effective, efficient, ethical, and legal manner. Ethical and legal standards that apply to Information Technology resources derive directly from standards of common sense and common courtesy that apply to the use of any shared resource. The purpose of the guidelines described in the document is to specify user responsibilities in accordance with a Proper Use policy and to promote the ethical, legal, and secure use of Information Technology resources for the protection of all members of the Ursinus community. The College extends membership in this community to its students and employees with the stipulation that they be good citizens, and that they contribute to creating and maintaining an open community of responsible users. 

Appropriate and Responsible Use

Central to appropriate and responsible use is the stipulation that, in general, Information Technology resources shall be used in a manner consistent with the instructional, public service, research, administrative and student life objectives of the College. Use should also be consistent with the specific objectives of the project or task for which such use was authorized. All uses inconsistent with these objectives are considered to be inappropriate use and may jeopardize further access to services.

Although Information Technology provides and preserves security of files, account numbers, authorization codes, and passwords, security can be breached through actions or causes beyond their reasonable control. You are urged, therefore, to safeguard your data, personal information, passwords and authorization codes, and confidential data; to take full advantage of file security mechanisms built into the Information Technology systems; to choose your passwords wisely and to change them periodically. Finally, you should to follow the security policies and procedures established to control access to and use of administrative data.

User Responsibilities

When you use the College’s Information Technology resources, you accept the following specific responsibilities: 

  1.  You should respect the privacy of other users; for example, you shall not intentionally seek information on, obtain copies of, or modify files, tapes, or passwords belonging to other users or the College.
  2.  You should not represent others, unless authorized to do so explicitly by those users, nor shall you divulge sensitive personal data to which you have access concerning faculty, staff, or students without explicit authorization to do so. 
  3. You should respect the rights of other users; for example, you shall comply with all federal and state laws as well as and college policies regarding sexual, racial, and other forms of harassment. 
  4. You should respect the legal protection provided by copyright and licensing of programs, data and intellectual material. For example, you shall not make copies of a licensed computer program to avoid paying additional license fees or to share with other users. Nor will you utilize college owned resources to sell or otherwise distribute any copyrighted information without permission. 
  5. To respect the intended usage of resources; for example, you shall use only those resources assigned to you by Information Technology, faculty, or staff for the purposes specified, and shall not access or use other such resources unless explicitly authorized to do so by the appropriate authority.
  6. You may not use College resources assigned to you or others for profit-making or fund-raising activities unless explicitly authorized to do so by the appropriate authority. 
  7. To respect the shared nature of resources; for example, you shall avoid activities that unreasonably tax system resources or that, through frivolous use, go beyond the intended use of the system.
  8. To respect the intended usage of systems for electronic exchange (such as e-mail, IRC, Usenet News, World Wide Web, etc.). For example, you shall not send forged electronic mail, mail that will intimidate or harass other users, send chain messages that can interfere with the efficiency of the system, mass mailings not related to the topic(s) of the addressed group(s), or promotional mail for profit-making purposes. 
  9. Also, you shall not break into another user’s electronic mailbox or read someone else’s electronic mail without his/her permission.
  10. To respect the integrity of the system or network; for example, you shall not intentionally develop or use programs, transactions, data, or processes that harass other users or infiltrate the system or damage or alter the software or data components of a system. Alterations to any system or network software or data component shall be made only under specific instructions from authorized faculty or management staff. 
  11. To respect the financial structure of a computing or networking system; for example, you shall not intentionally develop or use any unauthorized mechanisms to alter or avoid charges levied by the College.
  12. To adhere to all other College policies and procedures including, but not limited to, use of Telecommunications equipment; ethical and legal use of software and ethical and legal use of administrative data. 

Information Technology’s Responsibilities

Information Technology has the responsibility to offer service in the most efficient, reliable, and secure manner while considering the needs of the total user community. At certain times, the process of carrying out these responsibilities may require special actions or intervention by Information Technology staff. In such circumstances, Information Technology staff is bound by specific policies governing their actions. At all other times, a staff member has no special rights above and beyond those of other users; they are required to follow the same policies and conditions of use that other users must follow. Every effort shall be made to ensure that persons in positions of trust do not misuse Information Technology resources or data or take advantage of their positions to access information not required in the performance of their duties. 

Information Technology reserves the right to police user activity. When they become aware of violations, either through the normal course of duty or by a complaint, it is their responsibility to initiate an investigation. At the same time, to prevent an immediate threat to the security of a system or its users, Information Technology may suspend access of the people involved in the violation while the incident is being investigated. They may also take other actions to preserve the state of files and other information relevant to an investigation. 

Information Technology Staff will act in accordance with the policy governing privacy of user information by seeking permission to examine the content of e-mail and other private files. However, Information Technology staff may examine content in instances where user permission cannot be obtained and the content of files may jeopardize the security of systems, safety of users, or ability of the College to conduct necessary business; or in cooperation with law enforcement agencies.

Violations of Guidelines

Violations of any of the above guidelines are certainly unethical and may be breaches of college policy or criminal offenses. You are expected to volunteer any information you may have concerning instances in which the above guidelines have been or are being violated as well as cooperate in any investigation.

In accordance with established college practices, policies, and procedures, confirmation of inappropriate use of Ursinus College Information Technology resources may result in termination of access, disciplinary review, expulsion, termination of employment, legal action, or other disciplinary action deemed appropriate. Information Technology will, when necessary, work with other College offices such as Residence Life, the Judicial Board, the Deans’ office, Campus Safety, relevant law enforcement agencies, and any other appropriate authority in the resolution of violations. 

Other Responsible Use Guidelines for Specific Services

Other external networks or services to which Ursinus College maintains connections (typically through the Internet) may have established acceptable use standards. It is your responsibility to adhere to the standards of such networks. The college cannot and will not extend any protection to you should you violate the policies of an external network. 

Reporting Incidents

In general, reports about violations of these guidelines should be directed to Information Technology at or calling x3789. If possible, please forward a copy of any information relevant to the incident you are reporting. 
If it isn’t clear where to report the problem or the information is confidential, you may contact the office of the Chief Information Officer located in the Myrin Library. The CIO will redirect the incident to the appropriate person(s) for action or will handle it directly. 

Copyright Notice

All content stored on Information Technology servers is subject to the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) which governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. The information provided on the servers can not be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user downloads or later uses, a document or other piece of electronic media for purposes in excess of “fair use” that user may be liable for copyright infringement.