From time to time issues of computer privacy, fair use, or appropriate use of the Computer Science Department computer facilities come up. Any discussion must start with an understanding of the campus regulations on computer use.
To aid in such discussions, here is a copy of pages 148–150 from the College Regulations. It is available from The Dean of the College's website. Please consult that site for the current version. I cite this here for reference only; for any authoritative use go to the Dean of the College's website and get the most recent version.
The title page of document states:
These are the rules and regulations of Vassar College to which all students of the college community agree to abide.
The purpose of the computing and networking facilities at Vassar is to support and
enhance the program of teaching, learning, and scholarship which is the mission of
the college. Computing is also an important communications medium of the college
community. Therefore, using college-owned facilities establishes a contract to use
them legally, ethically, in accordance with their educational purposes, and with civil
regard for other members of the campus community.
In general, use of Vassar’s computer systems and network facilities is subject to
the same regulations and sanctions as any other campus activity. Users should be
aware that laws which apply in society also apply in the computer world. College
regulations regarding harassment and privacy, for example, and state or federal laws
with regard to libel or copyright of the written word, computer software, graphic
image, or audio sounds are applicable to the electronic community. For example,
harassment via computer may be treated the same as harassment through any other
medium; plagiarism of computer documents may be handled like any other instance
of plagiarism, and so on.
College-owned computing facilities, including the campus network and Internet connection, whether accessed locally or remotely, as well as central services such as file storage on campus servers, electronic mail, and web accounts, may not be used for commercial purposes (e.g., selling goods and/or services, consulting, or contract programming). Users should not waste resources or mistreat equipment or systems. They should not interfere in any way with the normal storage, processing, and flow of information on the campus systems. Furthermore, all users share the responsibility to protect the Vassar facilities from unauthorized use, and to report suspected infringements by contacting the Office of Safety and Security.
Individual usernames and passwords belong solely to the owner of the accounts to
which they pertain. To protect college resources for all users, usernames and passwords must not be shared with anybody for any reason; passwords must be changed
when requested by the Office of Computing and Information Systems (CIS) for
security purposes. College regulations concerning the privacy of files and programs
apply when Vassar computer users access campus resources from public or personal
computers on campus, when they access campus resources from a remote site, and
when they access other systems at remote sites or on other campuses.
Vassar College values the privacy of individual users and will respect that privacy whenever possible. By its very nature, electronically stored and transmitted information is vulnerable to interception, so users should always take precautions to protect sensitive files. While the college reserves the right to access files and transmissions on college-owned equipment, it will not normally invoke this right without the consent of the user. If access without the consent of the user is necessary, it will take place only with the approval of the appropriate senior officer and with notification to the president, except when the college is legally required or constrained to act otherwise.
Vassar is an educational community committed to academic excellence and civil
regard for others. The website and network services including, but not limited to,
electronic mail and file servers are intended to promote exploration and creativity. Vassar College is not responsible for material found, posted, sent, or published
from personal computer accounts, personal file servers, or on personal web pages.
Authors are solely responsible for content, and are expected to abide by college
regulations. Any comments and concerns should be directed to the author. Vassar
College reserves the right when warranted, however, to access files and documents
stored on college-owned equipment.
The purpose of the information technology resources at Vassar is to support and
enhance the college’s program of teaching, learning, and scholarship. Such resources
include, but are not limited to, computers, telecommunications equipment, data
and voice networks (whether accessed locally or remotely), audiovisual equipment,
and technology support staff. These information technology resources and facilities
also provide important support for communication and administration. Computing
and Information Services strives to support the mission of the college by providing
resources and facilities that are as extensive, effective, reliable, and as secure as
possible. This goal can be met only if members of the campus community use these
shared resources in a manner that is legal, ethical, and respectful of others.
Use of Vassar’s information technology resources is subject to the same regulations
as any other campus resources, facilities, or activities. Users should be aware that
laws that apply to the larger society, such as those governing intellectual property
and harassment, also apply in the electronic community. Information technology
resources may not be used for purposes that are inconsistent with the educational
mission of the college. Users must not knowingly engage in activities that interfere
with the normal operation of the information technology resources.
Vassar’s computer regulations set clear guidelines in accordance with college regulations to govern conduct on computers (see above). Cyberethics and Internet safety
are issues that all community members must be aware of to ensure a healthy, safe,
and respectful campus environment. Cyberethics codes of responsible and safe online behavior consider the effects of behaviors both on individuals and on groups
in our community. Behaviors that create harmful effects include illegal activities,
offensive and defaming language, hate speech, postings of private information such
as phone numbers and addresses, posting private photos, and anonymous messages
that target individuals or groups.
Vassar encourages community members to consider and be mindful of potential
effects on the individual and the community and to make responsible decisions
when engaging in online communication. Certain online behaviors may violate
particular college regulations and, when connected to known individuals, can be
adjudicated. Other behaviors, however, may fall outside of sanctionable conduct
either because they do not violate a college regulation or are anonymous in nature.
Nonetheless, when such behaviors are damaging to individuals and community values, those responsible for the actions have an ethical obligation to come forward and engage with others in community restoration and dialogue. Vassar takes
pride both in the rights afforded to individual students and, at the same time, in
the community responsibility that comes with those rights (see Part A, Student
Rights, Privileges, and Responsibilities and Academic Freedom and Responsibility
in Part F, Section I). Vassar is committed to diversity and the creation of inclusive
environments. When engaging in any form of communication, members of the
college community should be mindful of these values.
— Ben Stoutenburgh 2012/09/06 15:28