Information Technology Regulations

ACCEPTABLE USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to outline the acceptable uses of computing and information technology resources for the Nichols College student community. This policy outlines the standards for acceptable use of college computing and information technology resources that include, but are not limited to, equipment, software, networks, data, and telecommunications equipment, whether owned, leased, or otherwise provided by Nichols. This policy is intended to reflect the college’s commitment to the principles, goals, and ideals described in the Nichols College Mission Statement.

Coordination with Other Policies

Users of information technology resources at Nichols College are advised that other college policies, including those for Human Resources, the faculty and student handbooks, and notably those policies governing copyright and intellectual property compliance, may be related to the use of information technology resources, and that those policies must be observed in conjunction with this policy.

Additionally, laws (including, but not limited to, FERPA, HIPAA, etc.) and college policies relating to disclosure of confidential information must be observed.

Access to and Expectations of Persons Using Information Technology Resources

It is the policy of Nichols College to maintain access for its community to local, national, and international sources of electronic information in order to provide an atmosphere that encourages the free exchange of ideas and sharing of information. Nichols College maintains a variety of information technologies for use as resources for people, as catalysts to learning, for increased access to technology, and for an enriched quality of learning. Access to this environment and to the college’s information technology resources is a privilege and must be treated with high ethical and legal standards.

Both the Nichols community as a whole and each individual user have an obligation to abide by the following standards of acceptable and ethical use:

  • Use only those computing and information technology resources and data for which users have authorization, and only in the manner and to the extent authorized.
  • Use computing and information technology resources only for their intended purpose.
  • Protect the access and integrity of computing and information technology resources.
  • Abide by applicable laws and college policies, and all applicable contracts and licenses, and respect the copyright and intellectual property rights of others, including the legal use of copyrighted material.
  • Respect the privacy and personal rights of others.
  • Connect to the network only end-user equipment that has appropriately maintained software, including (but not limited to) operating systems, browsers, plug-ins, anti-virus, and other software as appropriate.

Access to Nichols information technology and computing resources is a privilege granted to students, staff, and faculty at Nichols College. The college extends access privileges to individual users of the college’s information technology and computing resources. The extension of these privileges is predicated on the user’s acceptance of and adherence to the corresponding user responsibilities detailed in this policy. The college reserves the rights to limit, restrict, or extend access to information technology resources.

Residence Hall Network Access Restrictions

No student shall turn on or connect student-owned wireless access points, gateways, or routers in the residence halls or elsewhere on campus. These wireless routers are commonly sold in retail stores and provide home private use; however, when brought on campus they cause Nichols College wireless interference, network congestion, and loss of network access to other students.

Application

This policy applies to all users of Nichols computing and information technology resources, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, guests, external individuals or organizations, and individuals accessing external network services, such as the Internet, via college facilities. The Vice President for Information Services will determine operational policies, networking standards, and procedures to implement the principles outlined in this policy. The Information Technology Department (IT) has the right to protect shared information technology resources.

Ownership

Nichols College assumes and reserves ownership of all data, files, messages, and programs stored in its computer systems. Users cannot claim ownership of any data stored in Nichols College computer systems. Users can, however, expect exclusive use of all email messages stored in their user accounts. Cooperation with any system administrator requests regarding user computing activities is expected. Only under certain unusual circumstances involving issues of system integrity, sexual harassment, or suspicion of illegal use of computer resources, and at the direction of the President of Nichols College, the Vice President for Information Services, the Director of Human Resources, or the Dean of Students, will the system administrator access email stored in user accounts.

Copying Copyrighted Materials (Software, Music, Videos)

Respect for the intellectual work and property of others has traditionally been essential to the mission of academic institutions. As members of the academic community, Nichols College values the free exchange of ideas. Just as Nichols College does not tolerate plagiarism, it does not condone the unauthorized copying of any copyrighted materials. The copying of these types of materials without permission from the owners is illegal and a criminal offense.

Storage or Copying of Confidential Information

Nichols maintains systems that store a significant amount of confidential information on faculty, staff, students, donors, prospects, vendors, and so on. Access to this information is restricted on a need-to-know basis. Under no circumstances is any of this information to be copied or exported off the server and stored on a laptop or portable computer, on a home computer, in cloud-based storage, on a smart phone, or on removable storage media, including, but not limited to, a CD or DVD, a USB key or thumb drive, an iPOD, or a MP3 player.

It should also be understood that email messages, which have file attachments containing confidential information, run the same risk of exposure as files on removable storage media, laptops, or smart phones. Therefore confidential information must not be attached to any email messages.

Use of College-Assigned Usernames and Passwords

Nichols College assigns usernames and passwords to individuals in order to provide users with access to specific information and system resources, based on the needs of their job function. Under no circumstances are users to share usernames and passwords with anyone else, unless requested to do so by a system administrator for the purpose of troubleshooting a system issue. Sharing of this information will be construed as circumventing the college’s security practices and procedures, and will expose that user to risk of disciplinary action. Any need for system access to data or resources must be processed as a request through the appropriate channels, so that appropriate authorizations can be obtained and documented.

Right to Monitor

The campus computer systems linked together on a common fiber-optic network are owned by Nichols College, or, in some cases, are privately owned as personal computers brought to campus by faculty, staff, or students. Regardless of ownership, every computer attached to the campus network for any reason (Internet connectivity, email accessibility, etc.) is subject to monitoring by the IT staff. Due to the exponential growth of the amount of data transmitted through the Nichols College network, this monitoring is required in order to detect and correct network problems as they occur, thereby ensuring the continued stability of the campus-wide computing environment. Even with the right to monitor, users should continue to expect that their data, files, and email will remain private. System monitoring is a mechanism for identifying abnormal computer system or user activities, not a method for accessing private information.

Uses

In general, the Nichols College student community shall use college information technology resources (which include privately owned computers connected to the college network) in connection with the college’s core teaching, research, and service missions. Uses that do not significantly consume resources or interfere with other users also are acceptable, but may be restricted by IT. Under no circumstances shall members of the college community or others use college information technology resources in ways that are illegal, that threaten the college’s tax-exempt or other status, or that interfere with reasonable use by other members of the college community. Any use of college information technology resources, including network infrastructure, for commercial purposes is prohibited.

Sanctions for Violations

Failure to comply with the appropriate use of computing and information technology resources threatens the secure environment and atmosphere for sharing information, exchanging ideas freely, and creating and maintaining information property. This failure subjects any member of the Nichols College community to existing disciplinary procedures including, without limitation, suspension of system privileges, expulsion from school, termination of employment, and legal action as may be appropriate. Nichols College also reserves the right to confiscate any privately owned equipment that is used in the violation of this Acceptable Use Policy.

Review of the Policy

This policy may be assessed from time to time in order to reflect substantive change that results from changes to the Nichols College information technology resources, or from changes in legal statutes that impact information technology resources, copyright, or other intellectual property issues. The Vice President for Information Services is responsible for determining when the policy needs to be reviewed and for defining the process for review and revision.

(This policy was adapted from a policy created by Case Western Reserve University.)

File Sharing and Copyright Policy

In their use of the college’s Internet connection, all members of the Nichols College community are expected to comply with both Title 17 of the United States Code, also known as the “Copyright Act of 1976,” and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998). With regard to peer-to-peer file sharing, all users of Nichols College network resources are also expected to abide by the rules outlined in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. www.campusdownloading.com is an example of a site that helps ensure legal downloads of protected materials.

 

Allowable

  • Make a backup copy of a CD, or a DVD, or software purchased for personal use.
  • Copy purchased music or movies to the purchaser’s own computer.
  • Copy purchased music or movies to the purchaser’s own PDA, iPod, or MP3 music device.
  • Make a CD for personal use of music purchased for personal use from appropriate sites on the Internet. Not Allowable
  • Share, for others to download, music, movies, or software via a network (including the Internet).
  • Make copies of a CD, a DVD, or software borrowed from a friend or to give to a friend.
  • Distribute for personal gain music purchased or downloaded.
  • Download music, movies, or software without purchasing them (unless they are legally “free”).

Consequences of Violations

Violations of copyright law can have serious consequences in the area of:

  • Civil Liability: Persons found to have infringed upon copyright law may be held liable for substantial damages and attorneys’ fees. The law entitles a plaintiff to seek statutory damages up to $150,000 for each act of willful infringement.
  • Criminal Liability: Copyright infringement also carries criminal penalties under the No Electronic Theft Act. Depending on the number and value of the products exchanged, penalties for a first offense may be as high as ten years in prison.
  • College Sanctions: Students are responsible for their compliance with copyright law. The college cannot take responsibility for student compliance, and cannot defend students against a claim by a copyright owner. Upon receipt of a complaint about a student’s behavior, Nichols College officials are required to take action. This action could range from terminating a student’s Internet connection and providing the student’s name to the copyright owner, to suspension or expulsion from the college, depending on the severity of the infringement.

(This policy was adapted with permission from Bates, Goucher, and Lynchburg Colleges.)

Use of Nichols-Assigned Student Email Accounts for College Notices

Each student is assigned a Nichols College email account and address. This address is the one the college will use to send important correspondence. Some examples of college correspondence include weather-related college closures, registration updates, responses to support requests sent to the Information Technology Help Desk, and course-related messages from faculty. Students are expected to check their Nichols email accounts regularly. Communication to faculty or staff must be made via students’ Nichols email accounts as well. For security reasons, the faculty and staff will only provide confidential information about student status at the college through a student’s Nichols email address.

This publication provides information concerning the programs at Nichols College and does not constitute a contract with the student.

The policies and procedures contained in the 2015-2016 Nichols College Catalog will remain in effect until June 30, 2016. Nichols College reserves the right to change at any time the rules governing admission, tuition, fees, courses, the granting of degrees, or any other regulations affecting the campus community. Such changes are to take effect whenever college officials deem necessary.