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Acceptable Use of Computing Resources

Purpose and Responsibility

The purpose of this policy is to promote the ethical and responsible use of computers and other information technology resources of Western Piedmont Community College.  The misuse of computing resources exposes the College and its constituents to serious risks, including breach of personal computer security, the disclosure of restricted data, compromise of network systems and services, degradation of technology performance, and legal liability.  All students, faculty and staff of the College are expected to read and comply with this policy.  Any questions concerning the content or interpretation of this policy should be directed to the Dean of Learning Resources and Technology.  Failure to read and comprehend this policy will not relieve an individual from any disciplinary actions which may result from an infringement of any part thereof.

Scope

The policy applies to all computing resources owned, leased, operated, or contracted by the College.  This may include, but not necessarily be limited to, desktop and laptop computers, computer servers, computer networks, peripherals and software, whether used for administration, instructional or other authorized purposes.  The policy also extends to the use of College computing resources to access remote networks and off-campus computers.

The policy applies to all authorized users of Western Piedmont Community College computing resources.  In the context of this policy, an authorized user may be defined as an enrolled student or employee of the College.  In certain instances, and at designated facilities, members of the community and visiting students, faculty, and staff of other educational institutions may be granted limited access to College computing resources upon receipt of special permission by appropriate College personnel.

General Principles

The College’s computing resources are primarily for the instructional, administrative and research purposes of students, faculty and staff of the College.  Ethical standards which apply to other College policies and activities and all local, state, and federal laws and regulations also apply equally to College computing resources.  The College abides by all sections of U.S. Copyright law and guidelines published by the Association of Data Processing Service Organizations (ADAPSO).

All individuals should use only those computing facilities and resources which they are authorized to use and in a manner consistent with the terms under which their access was granted.  All users are expected to respect the rights and privacy of other users and not interfere with or violate the normal and appropriate use of College computing resources or facilities.

Prohibited Activities

The following list provides some examples of clear violations of this policy as an aid in interpreting and enumerating the general principles set forth above.  This list should not be interpreted as comprehensive.  The College reserves the right to extend its oversight and regulation of computer resources, at any time, to comply with the expressed intent of this policy.

  1. Distributing copyrighted or licensed materials in electronic format, in violation of existing copyright law or licensed agreements with media or software publishers.  This activity is forbidden even if the material is distributed at no profit to the individual providing such or if for educational purposes not protected by Fair Use exemptions.
  2. Using software, electronic documentation, or media known to have been obtained in violation of copyright laws or lawful licensing provisions.
  3. Using a copyrighted program on more than one machine at the same time, unless such is provided for by a lawful licensing agreement from the author or publisher.
  4. Copying any copyrighted material or licensed program contents, unless permitted under Fair Use exemptions or permission is received by the copyright owner.  This restriction includes, but is not limited to: computer software, CDs or DVDs, computer files containing the contents of copyrighted and/or licensed music, video, graphic, or textual materials, and any other electronically formatted data which can be reasonably determined to be the intellectual property of an individual, group or corporate entity.
  5. Interfering with the legitimate use of computing resources by others.
  6. Using the computer or network access privileges of another person.
  7. Providing any unauthorized user with access to a College login ID or password, or in any other way permitting others to access a campus computer or the campus network without the express written permission of the Technology Division or authorized member of the College’s administration.
  8. Intentionally creating, modifying, reading or copying files (including email) to or from any computers or network access areas to which the user was not granted specific access; including the files of other College users without their explicit permission.
  9. Intentionally or recklessly introducing or transmitting destructive or malicious programs such as viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, etc. into the network or networked devices.
  10. Disguising one’s identity in any way, including the transition of falsified messages, removal of data from system files, and modifying file access records.  This prohibition covers the sending of fraudulent email and the misrepresentation of identity and intent through Internet or intranet-based messaging and chat systems.
  11. The creation or enablement of any function or gateway that provides unauthorized access to the College network or specific computing resources, via the Internet or other data transfer connection.  This includes the installation of Internet gaming and peer-to-peer file sharing systems which allow external users to access College computing resources.
  12. Sending harassing or libelous messages via any College email account or computing resource.
  13. Using College computing resources to gain unauthorized access to off-campus computer systems or networks.
  14. Using College computing resources to actively engage in procuring or transmitting material that is in violation of state and/or federal law.
  15. Using College computing resources to communicate information which might be used for the purpose of instigating, planning, implementing or underwriting acts of violence or terror against the United States government or any of its citizens.
  16. Use of College computing resources for commercial purposes without prior written permission from authorized College administrators.  This includes using College web, email or printing services to promote a personal business or to carry out monetary or barter transactions to support a personal business.
  17. Use of College computing resources for the blanket solicitation of money or gifts for individual benefit, or for fund raising purposes on behalf of groups or organizations which have not been specifically approved by College administration.
  18. Attempting to interfere with the normal operation of campus computing resources in any way, or attempting to subvert the regulations or restrictions associated with those resources.

Printing in Computer Labs

Some campus computer labs assess a per page charge for printing, while other labs provide printing at no cost.  If printing charges are applicable, all students are expected to pay for all pages printed before leaving the lab.  Failure to pay may result in disciplinary action and/or revocation of College computing privileges.  Use of no-cost printing , in computer labs to which this applies, is expected to be limited to academic purposes.  If personnel conclude that a student is abusing no-cost printing by printing an excessive number of pages or by printing inappropriate material, personnel may require the student to cease printing activity.  Habitual abuse of no-cost printing may result in the revocation of the student’s printing privileges campus-wide.

Electronic Banking and Personal Financial Transactions

The College does not guarantee the safety of any personal data transmitted through the College network and will not assume responsibility for any financial loss resulting from the theft of personal information occurring as a result of personal financial transactions taking place using College computing resources.

Disciplinary Action

Inappropriate activities involving computing resources which are already covered under other College policies will be handled in the same manner, and by the same authorities as with a non computer-related violation.  However, the Technology Division, with the approval of  College administration, reserves the right to confer additional computer-related penalties and restrictions when such violations of College policy involve the use of computing resources.  In the case of violations that pertain solely to this policy, enforcement and appropriate penalties will be the responsibility of the Technology Division, with the approval of College administration, and may include one or more of the following actions, plus any additional actions deemed appropriate:

  1. Suspension of one’s ability to perform logins on specific computing resources.
  2. Suspension of one’s privilege to use any or all of the College’s computing facilities.
  3. Suspension of one’s ability to login to the campus network.
  4. Increased monitoring of further computer activity.

When disciplinary action is taken by the Technology Division against a student or staff member, a written notice will be sent to the user and to the Vice-President for Student Development, explaining the nature of the offense and the type and length of disciplinary action.  The user will have 48 hours to appeal the action to the Vice-President of Student Development, at which time said officer may decide to suspend, modify or sustain the decision.

If the College revokes campus computing privileges of a student and he/she needs privileges to complete coursework, the student must obtain a letter signed by the instructor whose class requires such access.  This letter is to be forwarded to the Dean of Learning Resources and Technology who will authorize that the minimum privileges be restored to enable the student to complete course requirements.  Any additional violations by the student during this grace period will result in suspension from all College computing resources for one year.

Violations of state and federal statutes will be reported to the appropriate government agencies which may result in civil or criminal proceedings.

Routine System Security Monitoring

Regular monitoring of system activities may occur.  Only personnel authorized by the Dean of Learning Resources and Technology may engage in system monitoring.  The following may be monitored by aforementioned staff:

  1. Any system log files that contain information pertaining to processes or applications executed on a College server.
  2. System directories, temporary storage areas, work areas, and all areas outside of a user’s personal files. (Personal files are defined as any files created or owned by the user).
  3. Unsuccessful attempts to log into an account or network resource.
  4. Attempts to gain unauthorized access to computers within the campus community.
  5. Attempts to disguise the source of electronic mail.
  6. Personal computers associated with reported incidents of harassment or other violations of acceptable use policies, or user complaints.
  7. Any activity which, in the opinion of the above-mentioned staff, appears to compromise the security or integrity of the campus network or critical network computing services.

Routine system monitoring does not involve accessing users’ personal files (either local or network-based, monitoring personal web-browsing activity, or reading personal email.  Only under extreme circumstances are those measures implemented.

Privacy Rights and Exceptions

All users, including Technology Division personnel will respect the privacy of other authorized users of campus computing resources; including the rights of users to the security of their files, confidentiality of their data, and ownership of their intellectual property.

However, in instances where sufficient evidence suggests misuse of the College computing system in violation of civil or criminal law, the College reserves the right, upon review by the administration of the College and appropriate civil authorities, to view users’ personal files stored on College systems, monitor web-browsing activity from College computers, read user email, and implement monitoring activities needed to expose and fully prosecute illegal activity.

Changes to This Policy

The contents of this policy may be modified from time to time, based on changing circumstances and emerging technologies.  It is the responsibility of the Division of Technology, with the approval of College administration, to publicize and disseminate these policy changes to the College community.