Winthrop University Policy on the Appropriate Use of Information Technology Resources

1 Introduction

The Winthrop University community understands that information technology has become an integral resource in fulfilling our mission of teaching, learning, research, public service, and administrative responsibilities. The University therefore encourages students, faculty, and staff to acquire computer literacy and technological skill. Computers and networks empower us openly to find, consider, and disseminate information developed at Winthrop and elsewhere, to communicate and collaborate with others near and far, and to build the technological skills base on which the twenty-first century depends. With this empowerment, however, comes commensurate responsibility. Each of us is obliged to support and abide by the ethical and legal standards that apply to information technology, including rights of authorship, confidentiality, privacy, and dissemination. In doing so, we respect the codes of honesty, integrity, and intellectual freedom upon which institutions of higher learning rely.

In A Vision of Distinction, the Winthrop community was challenged to "ensure that information technology resources are used effectively and efficiently in support of the mission, goals, and objectives of the University. Information technology resources at Winthrop will conform to national and international standards...." To meet this challenge, the Appropriate Use Policy has been developed in consultation with faculty, students, staff, and administrative officers of the University, taking into consideration applicable legal standards, state policy, guidelines from respected professional organizations, and the policies developed by leading public and private universities throughout the United States. In putting forth this policy, we intend to establish a framework of responsible, considerate, and ethical behavior expected by the University in the use of information technology.

2 Policies

Throughout this document, the words "computers" and "computer systems" include but are not limited to faculty and staff desktops and laptops, library and lab computers as well as any hosted and cloud-based systems used by Winthrop University.

2.1 Usage Consistent with Law

Usage of Winthrop University computing resources shall be consistent with local, state, and federal law.

2.2 Copyright Law

It is the policy of Winthrop University to respect the ownership of all intellectual material protected by copyright laws.

Users shall not make or use illegal copies of copyrighted materials, store such copies on University systems, or transmit them over University networks.

For further information relating to the copyright policies of Winthrop University,
refer to the Winthrop University Policy on Copyrighted Material, available in the library.

2.3 Systems Security

Compliance with policies that ensure the security and integrity of all campus information systems is mandatory and critical to ensure continuing provision of computer resources to the entire Winthrop community.

2.3.1 User Accounts

The University owns the computer facilities, resources, and accounts. Information Technology and its respective departments must approve all access to central computer systems, including the issuing of passwords. Access to administrative systems is limited and must be obtained through the appropriate Systems Security Officer. The department chair or an authorized representative must approve all access to departmental computer systems.

All Winthrop students, faculty members, staff, and employees of contracted auxiliary services are eligible to receive a computer system account. Members of employees' families, who are not members of one of the above categories, are not eligible for computer system accounts.

Only the Assistant Vice President for Computing and Information Technology may grant others access to Winthrop University electronic resources and then only in those cases where there is a strong likelihood that the activity will significantly benefit the University as a whole.

Users shall not provide false or misleading information to obtain access to computing resources or facilities.

2.3.2 Responsibility for security of accounts

An account is given to an individual for the exclusive use by that individual. It is against University policy for a user to give someone his or her password or allow others to use his or her account. However, this is not to preclude others temporarily assisting a user in the performance of his or her university functions (for example faculty helping a student with a computer project; associates showing a new feature of the computer system) while supervised by the user. Users are responsible for all activity on their accounts.

Attempting to discover another user's password or attempts to gain unauthorized access to another person's files or mail is prohibited. The only exception will be when computer center personnel are working on the security of the computer system.

2.3.3 Circumvention of network security

Users shall not attempt to circumvent or subvert system or network security measures.

2.4 Confidentiality and privacy

2.4.1 Confidentiality

Winthrop University considers files (for example: class programs and assignments, spreadsheets, E-mail, etc.) to be confidential, and all users are expected to treat them as such. Files may be shared with others by explicitly making those files available to them. It is against University policy to access another person's files without permission from the owner of those files.

Winthrop University personnel will not read the E-mail or files of a user with the following exceptions when: (a) it is necessary to diagnose a computer system problem, (b) the University has probable cause to believe a violation of University policy or applicable law has occurred, (c) the University is complying with a valid subpoena or search warrant issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.

2.4.2 Notification

Unless notification would hinder an investigation of adherence to this appropriate use policy or would compromise a criminal investigation, a user will be notified when his or her E-mail or files will be read or have been read by University officials.

2.4.3 Interception of network traffic

Users shall not intercept network traffic for any purpose unless engaged in authorized network administrative duties.

2.5 Appropriate and inappropriate uses

2.5.1 Damage or disruption

Users may not damage computer systems or knowingly cause disruptions in its operations or use. Users shall not use the network to disrupt network users, services or equipment. Disruptions include, but are not limited to, distribution of unsolicited advertising, propagation of computer "worms" and viruses, and sustained high volume network traffic that substantially hinders others in their use of the network.

2.5.2 Personal Gain

Users shall not use the computer systems for personal gain such as selling access to a USERID or by performing work for profit with University resources in a manner not authorized by the University.

2.5.3 Consulting

Users wishing to use University computing resources for consulting related to their academic specialty shall obtain advance written approval from their dean or equivalent supervisor in consultation with the Assistant Vice President for Computing and Information Technology.

2.5.4 Excessive use

Users shall refrain from monopolizing systems, overloading networks with excessive data or wasting computer time, connect time, disk space, printer paper, manuals or other resources.

2.5.5 Nonessential use of laboratory resources

Because public University computer laboratory resources are limited, nonessential use of these resources is discouraged. When others are waiting for computer laboratory resources to complete class assignments, they may preempt people using resources for nonessential purposes.

2.5.6 Billable services

Users shall assume responsibility for any charges associated with billable services unless appropriate authorization has been obtained.

2.5.7 Electronic Mail

Electronic mail is a service provided by the University to users as an aid to communication. Acceptable uses of electronic mail Uses of Electronic Mail

Electronic mail may be used for a wide variety of on- and off-campus communication. Examples include subscriptions to listservs, professional communications, notices of University activities, personal correspondence, actions and scheduling of University and faculty committees, administration and board activities, announcement of University policies and schedules, and University announcements. System-Provided Mailing Lists

Only messages relating to University activities should be sent to the system-provided mailing lists, e.g., All Users, All Faculty, All Staff, etc. Such mailing lists are for notification of University events, communication of official University messages, and notification of bulletin board discussions. System-provided mailing lists shall not be used for "classified ads" (e.g., "For Sale," "For Lease," etc.) or "free items" (e.g., free kittens, free books, etc.). Users shall not use the system-provided mailing lists for commercial or partisan political purposes. Bulletin Board System

As an alternative to the use of system-wide mailing lists, the University provides a bulletin board system as a forum for discussion of issues, announcements of activities, "classified ads," and communications that are inappropriate for distribution by system-provided mailing lists. To assure the most economical use of computer resources and to avoid sending messages to persons who do not want to receive them, users are encouraged to use the bulletin board system when they wish to communicate to the campus at large. User-created Mailing Lists

Users may also create their own mailing lists. When creating and using a mailing list, users shall ensure that everyone on the list agrees to be included on the list. Unacceptable uses of Electronic Mail Prohibited uses

Electronic mail is not to be used for the following:

  • commercial ventures
  • personal profit
  • solicitations for contributions for non-University sponsored entities
  • chain letters
  • "pyramid schemes"
  • or any illegal activity or unlawful purpose. Harassment and intimidation

Users shall not use E-mail to harass or intimidate another person. "Sensitive" information

No memos containing "personnel-sensitive" or "legal-sensitive" information shall be sent via E-mail.

2.5.8 Intellectual freedom

Winthrop University recognizes the right of all users to use resources of their choosing. Computer resources are available for the interest, information, and enlightenment of the Winthrop community. Information will not be proscribed, censored, or removed by the University because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

2.5.9 Respect for rights of others

Computer users at Winthrop have a responsibility to be aware of materials that may be objectionable to others when using computer facilities in public areas. Monitors and printers in public areas, such as open access computer labs and offices that more than one person may share, should not be used to display or print materials that might be defined as harassing or disruptive. Users are reminded that any state and federal laws dealing with these or related matters apply to Winthrop facilities and are encouraged to use good judgment.

3 Enforcement and Penalties

3.1 Enforcement

The Assistant Vice President for Computing and Information Technology is responsible for administering and enforcing this policy. Questions concerning this policy should be directed in writing to the Assistant Vice President for Computing and Information Technology.

Violations of these policies shall be reported in writing to the Assistant Vice President for Computing and Information Technology. When potential damage to University computing resources or data is immediate, the Assistant Vice President for Computing and Information Technology may suspend the alleged violator's access to such resources immediately. Notice of such suspension shall be communicated to the alleged violator promptly. Ordinarily the Assistant Vice President for Computing and Information Technology will discuss the alleged violation with parties involved and/or the individual's supervisor, instructor, or dean, as appropriate. If the problem cannot be resolved, the Assistant Vice President for Computing and Information Technology may refer alleged violations of this policy to the appropriate administrator or judicial body.

If a Web page mounted on a University computing resource, in the opinion of the Assistant Vice President for Computing Information Technology, violates this Appropriate Use Policy or the Web Page Policy, access to that Web page may be temporarily suspended pending prompt adjudication of the matter as described in the paragraph above.

3.2 Penalties.

Any violations of the policies included in this document may result in penalties as described below. Students may face review for disciplinary actions as described in the Student Conduct Code in the Student Handbook. These may include, but are not limited to, the suspension of or loss of access to University computer resources, suspension or expulsion from the University.

Faculty and staff may face review for disciplinary action as described in the Faculty Handbook or Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual. These may include, but are not limited to, the suspension of or loss of access to University computer resources, and other penalties listed in the Handbook or Manual including possible termination of employment by the University. Appeals from penalties assessed under this policy will follow the appropriate grievance procedure as stated in the Faculty Handbook or Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual.


For more information, contact Patrice Bruneau, Assistant Vice President for Computing and Information Technology.
Please forward complaints to