Office of Information Technology


Policies on Use of Computers on Campus

Purpose:

In support of its mission of teaching, research, ministry outreach and public service, Franciscan University provides access to computing and information resources for students, faculty and staff, within institutional priorities and financial capabilities.

This document has two purposes:

  1. to prohibit certain unacceptable uses of Franciscan University’s computers and network facilities, and
  2. to educate users about their responsibilities.

The usage of University computers and network facilities is a privilege, not a right, and improper use can result in suspension or revocation of those privileges, and/or further disciplinary sanctions as warranted.

Most of these regulations simply restate obligations that follow from other existing policies or laws (see “Relevant Laws,” below). They fulfill requirements to adopt explicit computer security and ethics policies along the lines of those recommended in Internet RFC 1244.

This document is divided into rules and commentary, with the expectation that the commentary can be revised frequently to reflect technical changes and to answer questions that has come up, without substantially changing the rules.

Internet access is available to the University community through ComCast. Their policies are reflected in those of Franciscan University and must be followed for the University to continue to use their services. Misuse of the Internet though the University connection jeopardizes membership to the Network.

Penalties:

Violations of these policies incur the same types of disciplinary measures as violations of other University policies or state or federal laws, including criminal prosecution in serious cases. Violations constitute misuse of University property.

Definitions:

  • University computers and network facilities comprise all computers and servers owned or administered by any part of Franciscan University or connected to the University’s communication facilities, including departmental computers, and also the University’s computer network facilities accessed by anyone from anywhere.  
  • Authorization is permission granted by the appropriate part of the University’s administration and/or management structure, depending on the particular computers, servers and/or network facilities involved and the way they are administered. Users include any persons utilizing the University’s computers and/or network facilities.  
  • Security is the maintenance of the physical well being and proper working condition of the hardware and/or software of any University computer and/or network.

Rules of Usage:

  1. No person shall use, or attempt to use, any University computer, server or network facility without proper authorization. No one shall assist in, encourage, or conceal from authorities any unauthorized use, or attempt at unauthorized use, of any of the University’s computers, servers or network facilities.
  2. No person shall knowingly endanger, or attempt to endanger, the security of any University computer, server or network facility, nor willfully interfere with others’ authorized computer usage.
  3. No person shall use the University’s communication facilities to attempt unauthorized use, nor to interfere with others’ legitimate use, of any computer, server or network facility anywhere.
  4. Permission to physically connect or attempt to connect, a computer to any of the University’s networks must be done in conjunction with the University’s Office of Information Technology.
  5. All users shall share computing resources in accordance with policies set for the computers involved and cooperate fully with the other users of the same equipment. University computers are not to be used for unauthorized games and chat rooms for personal interest. Faculty assigned games and chat rooms to teach particular concepts can be used with prior coordinated authorization from the Computer Lab Supervisor and the faculty member.
  6. No person without specific authorization shall use, or attempt to use, any University computer, server or network facility for non-University business.
  7. No one shall reveal, or attempt to reveal, any password for any University computer or network facility to any unauthorized person.
  8. No person shall misrepresent his or her identity or relationship to the University for the purpose of obtaining or using computer, server or network privileges and/or services.
  9. No person without the other person’s specific authorization shall read, alter, delete or attempt to read, alter, or delete any other person’s computer files or electronic mail. This rule applies regardless of whether the operating system of the computer permits these acts. E-mail files older than 2 weeks will be deleted on the 14th and 28th of each month. THE UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MONITOR E-MAIL AND OTHER COMMUNICATIONS GENERATED THROUGH ITS NETWORKS AS A CONDITION OF THIS PRIVILEGE.
  10. No person shall copy, install, or attempt to install or use any software or data files in violation of applicable copyrights, license agreements or state laws.
  11. No person shall create, install, attempt to install or knowingly distribute computer viruses or other such malicious programs on any University computer, server or network facility, regardless of whether any harm results.
  12. No person shall modify, reconfigure or attempt to modify or reconfigure the software or hardware of any University computer, server or network facility without proper authorization from the University’s Office of Information Technology.
  13. Users shall place confidential information on the University’s computers or network at their own risk. The University cannot guarantee the privacy of computer files, electronic mail or other information by computer, whose confidentiality is not otherwise mandated by law.
  14. Users shall take full responsibility for every message they transmit through the University’s computers and network facilities. No one shall use the University’s network to transmit fraudulent, defamatory, harassing, obscene, indecent or threatening messages, or any communications prohibited by law or which violates University practice, policy or the spirit of its mission. The University reserves the right to remove any such material subsequent to administrative review.
  15. Viewing, accessing, printing and distributing indecent, obscene, pornographic materials using University equipment, network or internet access is strictly prohibited.
  16. Users shall comply with all the regulations and policies of the various news-groups, mailing lists, and other public forums through which they disseminate messages.
  17. System administrators shall perform their duties fairly, in cooperation with the user community, the appropriate administrators and University policies. System administrators shall respect the privacy of users as far as possible and shall refer all disciplinary matters to appropriate authorities.

Relevant laws:

Computer crimes defined by Ohio law are mentioned in the comments on Rule I. Federal law (18 USC ¤ 1030) provides for fines and imprisonment up to 20 years for unauthorized or fraudulent usage of computers that are used by or for the federal government (which includes many of the computers on the net), and for unauthorized disclosure of passwords and similar information when this affects interstate commerce. (Recall that net messages, as well as long-distance phone calls, are interstate commerce and thus fall under this law.)

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (18 USC ¤2701-2709) and other wiretap laws prohibit unauthorized interception of electronic communications, including electronic mail.

Computer users must also obey laws against private use of University property, divulging confidential educational records, copyright infringement, fraud, slander, libel, harassment, and obscenity. Laws against obscene or harassing telephone calls also apply to computers that are accessed by telephone.

The University must obey the policies and the regulations of the nationwide and worldwide networks to which its computers are connected.

In this respect the University’s computers are different from those owned by individuals or corporations. If you need unlimited access to computer networks for private purposes, you can subscribe to a private service.

Commentary:

  1. No person shall use, or attempt to use, any University computer, server or network facility without proper authorization. No one shall assist in, encourage, or conceal from authorities any unauthorized use, or attempt at unauthorized use, of any of the University’s computers, servers or network facilities.
    Comments: Computers, servers and networks are just like any other University facilities; they are to be used only by people who have explicit permission. Using a computer without permission is theft of services and is illegal under state and federal laws. In addition, the following specific computer crimes are defined by state law (ORC sect.2913.01, 2913.02,2913.04).
  2. No person shall knowingly endanger, or attempt to endanger, the security of any University computer, server or network facility, nor willfully interfere with others’ authorized computer usage.
    Comments: Many of the other regulations given here deal with specific acts of this kind. You should not assume that other malicious acts or deliberate security violations are permissible merely because there is no specific rule against them.
  3. No person shall use the University’s communication facilities to attempt unauthorized use, nor to interfere with others’ legitimate use, of any computer, server or network facility anywhere.
    Comments: State and federal laws forbid malicious disruption of computers. Franciscan University does not tolerate the invasion of an individuals’ privacy, theft of computer services, or committing misrepresentation or fraud or those who attempt to disrupt computers or network facilities for any other purpose.
  4. Permission to physically connect, or attempt to connect a computer, laptop, printer, hub or any network appliance to any of the University’s networks must be made in conjunction with the Office of Information Technology.
    Comments: The applicable requirements depend on what kind of connection is being made. For example, dialing up with an ordinary asynchronous modem does not require any special authorization, but connecting to the campus-wide Ethernet cable does, because one improperly configured machine on a network can cause widespread disruption. Permission to connect equipment to the network can be obtained by the Office of Information Technology, Starvaggi Hall.
  5. All users shall share computing resources in accordance with policies set for the computers involved and cooperate fully with the other users of the same equipment. University computers are not to be used for unauthorized games and chat rooms for personal interest.
    Comments: If you need an unusual amount of disk space, CPU time, or other resources, check with the administrators in charge of the computer rather than risk disrupting others’ work.  When resources are tight, work that is necessary to the University’s mission (instruction, research, and service) must take priority over computing that is done to pursue personal interests or self-training on side topics. Priorities for any particular machine are set by the administrators in charge of it in consultation with the user community. Obtaining extra computer resources through any form of deception (e.g., secretly opening multiple accounts, misrepresenting the nature of your work, or the like) is strictly prohibited.
  6. No person, without specific authorization, shall use or attempt to use any University computer, server or network facility for non-University business.
    Comments: The University only provides computer services for its own work, not for private use. The University’s mission can be understood broadly as including education, self-training, and discussion on a wide range of subjects, not just those immediately necessary for a person’s job or academic courses.
    But it is improper to use the University’s computers for political campaigns, fund-raising, commercial enterprises, mass mailings, or other outside activities that have not been granted the use of the University’s facilities. University staff should check with their supervisor to find out how these policies apply to you.
  7. No one shall reveal or attempt to reveal any password for any University computer, server or network facility to any person.
    Comments: A password is like the key to a building: you are responsible for what happens to it while it is in your care. If you give it away, you are endangering the entire system, not just your own files. In fact, there are computer criminals who would like to have your password so they can make it look as though you, not they, are committing their crimes. You are responsible for choosing a secure password. Don’t use names, nicknames, phone numbers, or recognizable words in any language, because some people guess passwords by automatically trying every word in a large dictionary, e.g., khj44#f8.
  8. No person shall misrepresent his or her identity or relationship to the University for the purpose of obtaining or using computer, server or network privileges and/or services.
    Comments: All access to the Internet through the University’s facilities is restricted to people who are identified to the University, even if the purpose is to use a computer elsewhere.
    Naturally, you must not claim to be someone else, nor claim to have a different relationship to the University than you actually do, when obtaining a computer account or access to a lab.
  9. No person without the other person’s specific authorization shall read, alter, delete or attempt to read, alter, or delete any other person’s computer files or electronic mail. This rule applies regardless of whether the operating system of the computer permits these acts. E-mail files older than 2 weeks will be deleted on the 14th and 28th of each month.THE UNIVERSITY RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MONITOR E-MAIL AND OTHER COMMUNICATION GENERATED THROUGH ITS NETWORK AS A CONDITION OF THIS PRIVILEGE.
    Comments: Don’t even try to guess or steal other people’s passwords, or read their files, even if the computer permits this. Doing so would be like rummaging through someone else’s desk. Even if you can pick the lock, and even if there is no lock at all, you have no right to intrude.
  10. No person shall copy, install, and attempt to install, or use any software or data files in violation of applicable copyrights, license agreements or state laws.
    Comments: This rule forbids making unauthorized copies, for use elsewhere, of software residing on the University’s computers. It also forbids installing or using pirated/illegal software on University computers.
    Also, unauthorized copying is usually a violation of federal copyright law. Before copying software, be sure what you are doing is legal, and consult people who have full information; don’t just give yourself the benefit of the doubt. In addition, Ohio law also prohibits tampering with records in ORC sect. 2913.42
    License checks: If strangers show up at your computer site saying they are there to check software licenses, you should immediately contact the Office of Information Technology and your administrative superiors. Software companies do not normally authorize these surprise inspections, and there is a substantial risk that the “inspectors” are not legitimate.
  11. No person shall create, install, and attempt to install or knowingly distribute computer viruses or other such malicious programs on any University computer, server or network facility, regardless of whether any harm results.
    Comments: A virus is a hidden computer program that secretly copies itself onto users’ disks, often damaging data.
  12. No person shall modify, reconfigure or attempt to modify or reconfigure the software or hardware of any University computer, server or network facility without proper authorization.
    Comments: Students utilizing computer lab facilities may not modify the hardware, operating system, desktops, screen savers, icons or application software of a University computer unless you have been given permission to do so by the department or other administrative unit that is in charge of the system. Staff must consult their departmental administration regarding changes to hardware, software applications and networking facilities. The other users with whom you share the system, and the technicians on whom you rely for support, are expecting to find it exactly the way it was setup.
  13. Users shall place confidential information on the University’s computers or network at their own risk. The University cannot guarantee the privacy of computer files, electronic mail, or other information stored or transmitted by computer whose confidentiality is not otherwise mandated by law.
    Comments: Ordinary electronic mail is not private. It is more like sending a postcard. Do not use it to transmit computer passwords, credit card numbers, or information that would be damaging if made public. Bear in mind that students’ educational records are required by law, and by University policy, to be kept confidential. It is also necessary to protect confidential information about employees, such as performance evaluations.
    This applies not only to networked computers, but also to computers, tapes, or disks that could be stolen; an increasing number of computer thieves are after data rather than equipment. The University will normally respect your privacy but cannot guarantee it absolutely.
  14. Users shall take full responsibility for every message they transmit through the University’s computers, servers and network facilities. No one shall use the University’s computers to transmit fraudulent, defamatory, harassing, obscene, indecent or threatening messages, or any communications prohibited by law or which violates a University practice, policy or the spirit of its mission. The University reserves the right to remove any such material subsequent to administrative review.
    Comments: You have exactly the same responsibilities on the computer network as when using other forms of communication. You must obey laws against fraud, defamation, harassment, obscenity, solicitation of illegal acts, threatening or inciting violence, and the like. Bear in mind that uninvited amorous or sexual messages are likely to be construed as harassment. If you are bothered by uninvited E-mail, ask the sender to stop, and then, if necessary, consult the System Administrator in the Office of Information Technology, Starvaggi Hall, Starvaggi Hall.
    Use of University computers to circulate chain letters and pyramid schemes is not permitted. Never participate in schemes to deliberately flood a computer with excessive amounts of E-mail. “Mail bombing” can incapacitate a whole computer system or even a whole sub-network, not just the intended victim. This constitutes endangering the University computers or network facilities as outlined in rule no.2, above.
    Never falsify your name or status when using privileges such as electronic mail and news-groups. On some computers, anonymous communication (concealing your name) is sometimes permitted. Deceptive communication, in which your messages appear to come from another specific person, is never allowed.  Fake electronic mail: All users should be aware that there is no guarantee that electronic mail actually came from the person or site indicated in it. Deceptive electronic mail is easy to fake, including the technical information in the header; doing so is of course prohibited.
  15. Users shall comply with all the regulations and policies of the various news-groups, mailing lists, and other public forums through which they disseminate messages.
    Comments: When participating in Usenet news-groups and similar forums, you must respect their policies and practices, for two reasons:
    1. To join these networks, the University has to agree to abide by their policies. Misuse would endanger the University’s eligibility to participate.
    2. Most of the cost of transmitting any message in a discussion is borne by the sites that receive it, not the site that sends it out. Thus, you are the guest of the whole network of communities, and it is important to abide by the policies and practices of the entire network.

    The most ironclad rule is to respect the announced subject of each forum and not to post anything off-topic.
  16. System administrators shall perform their duties fairly, in cooperation with the usercommunity, the appropriate administrators and University policies. System administrators shall respect the privacy of users as far as possible and shall refer all disciplinary matters to appropriate authorities.
    Comments: The first responsibility of any computer, server or network administrator is to serve the user community. But regardless of what the users want, system administrators are not free to violate copyrights, software licenses, or other legal restrictions.
    Although computer users’ privacy is not guaranteed, system administrators respect this privacy as far as possible. System administrators do not normally interfere with users’ electronic communication, especially in any way that could be interpreted as favoring one side of a controversy or suppressing an unpopular opinion or topic.
    The system administrator does not discipline users in cases of computer misuse. The system administrator is expected to refer all cases to appropriate authorities who can protect the rights of the accused. If you are accused of any violation that justifies disciplinary action, you have a right to a fair hearing just as if your alleged misdeeds had not involved computers.
    It is important to distinguish actions taken to punish a person from actions taken to protect a system. If your account appears to have been misused or broken into, the system administrator will inactivate it and contact you. This is done to prevent the misuse and does not presume that you are the guilty person.  You can expect to have your privileges reinstated right away, with new passwords, as soon as you identify yourself. Thus, you can resume using the computer while investigation of the incident continues.

Other policies:

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