Usage Guidelines

Adopted by UW Colleges Senate 2/4/97

Access to computing and networking resources is a privilege normally extended to University faculty, staff, and students. Accompanying that privilege is an obligation, on the part of users, to understand and abide by the responsibilities and regulations that govern the computing environment in the University of Wisconsin Colleges. This document outlines the University of Wisconsin Colleges' guidelines on the use of computer data networks and University owned computer facilities. These guidelines reflect the general ethical principles of the University community and indicate what responsibilities are characteristic of the University computing environment.

Sections of this document:

I. Institutional Purposes
II. Security
III. Confidentiality
IV. Academic Freedom
V. Inappropriate Usage
VI. Sanctions and the Right of Appeal - this section has not been adopted

I. Institutional Purposes

The use of computing and networking resources is primarily for purposes related to the University's mission of education, research, and public service. While members of the University of Wisconsin Colleges' community should use computing resources primarily for purposes related to their studies, their instruction, the discharge of their duties as employees, their official business with the University, and their other University sanctioned activities, incidental personal usage is appropriate. The use of university computing and networking resources for commercial purposes is permitted only by special arrangement with the Assistant Chancellor and the appropriate computer system administrator.

II. Security

The user is responsible for correct and sufficient use of the tools each computer system provides for maintaining the security of stored information. A summary of the security procedures relevant to the users of UW Colleges computing and networking resources is given below: Computer and/or network access accounts are assigned to individual users for their exclusive use and should not be shared with others unless expressly authorized by the user. Users are expected to exercise diligence in preventing their accounts from being used by unauthorized persons and are required to report to university authorities any suspected breach of account security. Violation of these regulations governing the use of accounts by others may result in the immediate revocation of the account.

  1. Users should secure their accounts by using an obscure account password. Passwords should be changed frequently.
  2. The user should understand the level of protection each computer system automatically applies to files and supplement that protection, if necessary, for sensitive information.
  3. The microcomputer user should be aware of computer viruses and other destructive computer programs, and take steps to avoid being either their victim or propagator.

III. Confidentiality

In general, information stored on computers will be considered confidential, whether protected by the computer system or not, unless the owner intentionally makes that information available to other groups or individuals. The University of Wisconsin Colleges will assume that computer users wish the information they store on central and campus shared computing resources to remain confidential. UW Colleges computing centers will maintain the confidentiality of all information stored on their computing resources. Requests for the disclosure of confidential information will be governed by the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) and the Wisconsin Open Records Law (SS. 19.31 - 19.39,stats., Chapter 335, Laws of 1981). All such requests will be honored only when approved by University officials who are the legal custodians of the information requested, or when required by state or federal law, or court order. The Assistant Chancellor shall be notified of all requests for disclosure.

IV. Academic Freedom

Free expression of ideas is central to the academic process. University of Wisconsin Colleges computer system administrators will not remove any information from individual accounts or from electronic bulletin boards maintained in individual accounts unless it is determined that:

  1. The presence of the information in the account or on the bulletin board involves illegality (e.g., copyrighted material, software used in violation of a license agreement).
  2. The information in some way endangers computing, networking resources, or the information of other users (e.g., a computer worm, virus, or other destructive program).
  3. The information is not in compliance with Federal law, State law, or University of Wisconsin policy.

System administrators considering the removal of possible illegal or inappropriate material under a. or c. above will consult, if possible, with the individual involved and with the Assistant Chancellor before the final removal of such material, although the material may be rendered inaccessible pending that consultation. Users whose information is removed, for any of the reasons indicated above, will be notified of the removal and may appeal any such action by contacting the Assistant Chancellor.

V. Inappropriate Usage

  1. Computing and networking resources should be used only in accordance with the guidelines indicated herein. Examples of inappropriate and unacceptable use of computing and networking resources include but are not limited to:
  2. Harassment of other users (e.g., continuing to send electronic communications when the recipient has requested that you cease, sending threatening messages).
  3. Destruction of or damage to equipment, software, or data belonging to the university or other users.
  4. Accessing or attempting to access computer networks or computer systems that you do not have permission to use or exceeding your permission.
  5. Violations of computer system security.
  6. Unauthorized use of computer accounts, access codes, or network identification numbers assigned to others.
  7. Use of computer and/or network facilities in ways that impede the computing activities of others (e.g., randomly initiating interactive electronic communications or e-mail exchanges, overuse of interactive network utilities, overuse of network accessible bulletin boards or conferences, and the "off topic" posting of material to bulletin boards and conferences).
  8. Violation of copyrights and software license agreements.
  9. Violation of the usage policies and regulations of the networks that the University of Wisconsin Colleges is a member of or has authority to use.
  10. Violation of another users' privacy.
  11. Academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism or cheating).

VI. Sanctions and the Right of Appeal [this section has NOT been adopted]

Violation of the policies described herein for use of computing resources are dealt with seriously and may result in the immediate revocation of computer and/or network access. Disciplinary action, under these guidelines, taken against students will be governed by University of Wisconsin System Administrative Code, Chapter 14 UWS - Student Academic Disciplinary Procedures, Chapter 17 UWS - Student Disciplinary Procedures, and Chapter 18 UWS - Conduct on University Lands. When a sanction is imposed against a student (account revocation, restricted access etc.) the student will have the right to appeal that action through the office of the Vice Chancellor by submitting a formal Letter of Appeal. The Vice Chancellor will appoint a Computing and Networking Services Review Panel to hear and rule on the Appeal. For additional information regarding the appeal process contact the Office of the Vice Chancellor.

Disciplinary action, under these guidelines, taken against Faculty or Academic Staff is governed by UWS 6 - Complaints and Grievances (faculty), UWS 4, Procedures for Dismissal (faculty), UWS 13 - Complaints and Grievances (academic staff), and UWS 11 - Dismissal of Academic Staff for Cause. Disciplinary action, under these guidelines, taken against classified employees is governed by s. 203.34 - Demotion, suspension, discharge and layoff; s. 230.44 - appeal procedures; ER 46 - Grievance procedure; and, by the applicable collective bargaining agreement.

Illegal acts involving University of Wisconsin Colleges computing and networking facilities that are in violation of State or Federal Laws will be referred to the appropriate civil authorities for prosecution.