3.6.2. Policy on Computing Ethics, E-mail and Computer Use

Every residence hall room, faculty office and appropriate staff office has a connection to the Oglethorpe computer network and, through that intranet, to the greater world of the Internet with all its resources. Access is also available to students through computers located in the Philip Weltner Library, the Turner Lynch Campus Center and Goslin Hall. Through the PetrelNet, users can also connect to the Voyager Library System, which provides access to the library’s catalog and to Galileo. Galileo is an online library portal to authoritative, subscription-only information that isn’t available through free search engines or Web directories. Participating institutions may access over 100 databases indexing thousands of periodicals and scholarly journals. Over 10,000 journal titles are provided in full-text. Other resources include encyclopedias, business directories, and government publications.

Statement of Computing Ethics

All users of Oglethorpe University electronic resources have the responsibility to use information technology in an effective, efficient, ethical and lawful manner. The ethical and legal standards that must be maintained are derived directly from standards of common sense and common decency that apply to the use of any public resource. Violations of any conditions will be considered to be unethical and may possibly be unlawful. In accordance with established University practices, violations may result in disciplinary review which could result in legal action. The following list, though not comprehensive, specifies some responsibilities that accompany computer use, be it on centralized computing hardware or any other Oglethorpe electronic resource.

  1. Use of resources must be employed only for the purpose in which they are intended. University-supported computing includes: authorized research, instructional and administrative activities. Our personnel and computing resources cannot be used for commercial purposes, monetary gain or unauthorized research.
  2. Computer users must not search for, access or copy directories, programs, files, disks or data not belonging to them unless they have specific authorization to do so. Programs, subroutines and data provided on Oglethorpe’s central computers cannot be downloaded or taken to other computer sites without permission. Programs obtained from commercial sources or other computer installations may not be used unless written authority to use them has been obtained. Oglethorpe equipment or software may not be used to violate the terms of any license agreement.
  3. Individuals should not encroach on others’ use of the computer. This includes:
    • Using electronic resources (including but not limited to Peer-to-Peer programs, such
      as Bit Torrent) for non-academic activities or other trivial applications such that it
      prevents others from using these resources for their primary intended purpose;
    • Sending frivolous or excessive messages or mail either locally or over the networks;
    • Using excessive amounts of network bandwidth, hard disk storage space and/or
      printing excessive amounts of digital documents, programs, files or data;
    • Running grossly inefficient programs when efficient ones are available.
  4. Individuals must not attempt to modify system facilities or attempt to crash the system. Nor should individuals attempt to subvert the restrictions associated with computer accounts, networks or computer software protections.

Policy on E-mail and Computer Use

Oglethorpe University provides a wide variety of computing, networking and other technology facilities in order to promote and support academic pursuits. Information technology services (IT services) maintains and supports computing and networking services as well as other technologies in support of the University mission.

By using University technology resources, all users agree to abide by all University rules and policies, as well as any and all local, state and federal laws. All users have the responsibility to use computing technology resources in an effective, efficient, ethical and lawful manner. Violations of this policy may result in suspension, without notice, of privileges to use the resources and services, disciplinary action, including possible termination and/or legal action. Any questions regarding this and other policies should be addressed to the director of IT services.

Use of Oglethorpe’s computer, network and telecommunication resources and services constitutes acceptance of this Policy on E-mail and Computer Use.

General Responsibilities

  1. Individual use: Network and computing accounts are for individual use and should only be used by the person to whom the account has been issued. Users are responsible for all actions originating through their account or network connection. Users must not impersonate others or attempt to misrepresent or conceal their identity in electronic messages and actions. Users must not use University resources for any purpose inconsistent with Oglethorpe’s status as a non- profit entity. Finally, users may not send mass e-mail to the University or subgroups of the University via already existing lists or lists gleaned from the global address book without prior authorization.
  2. E-mail use: Oglethorpe University encourages the appropriate use of e-mail. All users are expected to adhere to the bounds of decency, law, ethics, common sense, and good taste in e- mail communications. Confidentiality of e-mail is not guaranteed. Users should not assume that messages they send or receive are absolutely private. Views expressed by individual users are not necessarily the views of Oglethorpe University.
  3. Intellectual property: Users must comply with all copyright laws and fair use provisions, software licenses and all other state and federal laws governing intellectual property. Inappropriate reproduction and/or distribution of copyright music, movies, computer software, text, images, etc., are strictly prohibited.

Privacy

Oglethorpe University will take reasonable efforts to ensure that user files and e-mail messages remain private. Further, the University does not routinely monitor the contents of user files and/or messages. However, given the nature of computers and electronic communications, the University cannot in any way guarantee, unless legal requirements dictate otherwise, the absolute privacy of files and information. Users must take reasonable precautions and understand that there is a risk that in some circumstances others can, either intentionally or unintentionally, gain access to files and/or messages. Where it appears that the integrity, security or functionality of the University’s computer or network resources are at risk, Oglethorpe University reserves the right to take whatever actions it deems necessary (including, but not limited to, monitoring activity and viewing files) to investigate and resolve the situation.

The University will treat personal files and communications as confidential and will only examine or disclose their contents when authorized by the owner or under the following circumstances:

  1. Criminal investigation: IT services will comply with any criminal or civil legal proceedings, and provide any and all data requested in a legal subpoena in a timely fashion. The user will be informed of this action unless IT services is legally bound to secrecy.
  2. Termination of employment: IT services will, upon written request of a department head and/or vice president, and after verification that a user has left the University, change that user’s password and provide the new password to the user’s former department head or director.
  3. Internal administrative request (e.g., harassment allegation, discrimination, job performance, suspected honor code violation, suspected code of student conduct violation, etc.): Any request of an internal nature to examine a user’s e-mail or electronic data must be made in writing to the director of IT services. Once this request is received, the combined authorization of the chief information officer and the appropriate provost and/or vice president is necessary to approve the request and outline the scope and method of the search, who will be provided the results of the search and decide whether the affected user will be notified and if so, if it will be before or after the search is completed. In general, users will be notified of the search unless the circumstances of the request dictate otherwise. Final approval for the search rests with the president.

All professional staff members of the IT services department are required to sign a confidentiality agreement regarding any and all user information they may come across in the performance of their duties.