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.

Campus Computer Regulations

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