Academic Computer Usage

Table of Contents

I. Purpose of this Document
II. Access to Academic Computing
III. General Use Policies
IV. Allocation and Maintenance of Computing Resources
V. Policy Enforcement and Modifications

I. Purpose of this Document

This document describes the general policies covering the use of academic computing facilities which are under the direction of Grinnell College Information Technology Services (ITS). "Academic computing'' means any use of college-owned computing machinery (central processors, printers, microcomputers, and other types of peripheral equipment), software (programs and documentation) related to teaching, learning and research activities, and related facilities. Every user of academic computing resources is expected to understand and follow these policies.

II. Access to Academic Computing

A. Computer Accounts

Users gain access to computer systems by being assigned an account on the college's Windows NT network. Possession of an NT account may allow the owner to use storage space on disks, and services of peripheral devices such as printers.

B. Access to Computing

ITS provides access to computing appropriate for the needs of particular users. Access may include Internet connection, access to local area networks and file servers, or use of microcomputers. Computer access is made available only to authorized individuals and organizations, according to the following guidelines:

1. Students:

Each Grinnell College student is assigned an NT account during the first semester of their enrollment at Grinnell College. Each student is required to sign a document that indicates they have read the ITS Academic Computer Use Policies document (this document) and agrees to abide by those policies. This account may be used while the student is currently enrolled for classes at the college. Suspended and dismissed students do not have access to the Grinnell College computer systems.

Students on academic leave within the Off-Campus Study programs are considered current students. However, unless a student requests that their account remain active, that account will be disabled for security purposes while they are away.

Information Technology Services requests that all users going on leave sign off all inter-campus mailing list distribution services. If a user fails to sign off all automatic distribution lists, Information Technology Services may log into the account and take this action. In some cases, Information Technology Services may need to examine mail headers to determine the list maintainer's address.

Students on personal or medical leave are not considered current students. The primary factor used to determine whether to merely disable or to delete a student computer account is the date of the last login to their computer account. The account is deleted unless the student logged in after the most recent semester backup, in which case the account is disabled until after the semester backup following the login date. Semester backup tapes are stored for a period of two years.

Students re-enrolling after a personal or medical leave may request that their files be restored provided they are re-enrolling within the two year period mentioned above. Contact ITS for details.

2. Faculty

Each faculty member is assigned an account for their use in teaching and research activities.

3. Staff

Each Grinnell College staff member who has computing needs that support the overall goals of Grinnell College may apply at Information Technology Services for an NT account.

4. College organizations

Student organizations which are officially part of the Grinnell College community, as determined by the Office of Student Affairs, may apply at Information Technology Services to use the computing facilities. The application must include a written description of the computing needs of the organization. The application must be approved and signed by the organization's Faculty/Staff Sponsor. One specific group member must be designated as the computer account manager, and that person is responsible for all computing activities of the organization account. The application must be approved by the Director of Information Technology Services or an assigned representative.

5. Special students

High-school students and others who are taking classes at Grinnell College as special students are granted an NT account and may use existing facilities. They are subject to all the same policies as regular students. A special student account will be in effect until the owner is no longer classified as a student.

C. Approval of Account Applications

The Director of Information Technology Services approves or denies all requests for accounts on the College's computer systems.

D. Cost of Computing

Users of the Grinnell College computing facilities are not, in general, charged for use of those facilities. ITS provides reasonable supplies of expendable resources (e.g., printer paper) for publicly accessible peripherals such as printers. However, the college reserves the right to levy charges for some supplies (e.g., forms, labels), some types of services (e.g., off-campus electronic mail), for inappropriately used resources (e.g., paper), and for computer use by college organizations and individuals or organizations that are not part of the college community.

III. General Use Policies

A. Account Access

  1. No person may use, or attempt to use, any computer accounts other than their own assigned account. The negligence or naivete of another user in revealing an account name and password does not confer authorization to use the account.
  2. An account owner may not lend their account(s) to another user.
  3. A user should only access, or attempt to access, files in their own accounts, files which have been made accessible to them by the files' owner, or files which have been made publicly accessible by the files' owner.
  4. In general, Information Technology Services discourages, but does not prohibit except where legally required to do so, the running of programs out of other users' accounts. Since such programs may operate in unpredictable or destructive ways, and since they may become unavailable without notice or recourse, they represent a significant risk that is borne entirely by the user. Information Technology Services does not assume any liability for damages done by programs devised by College users. Publicly accessible, user-written "macros," templates, and graphics may also be shared at the user's personal risk. In addition, the user of such programs and files is responsible for any consequent damage to the computing systems at the College or the files or accounts of other students or faculty.
  5. All students offering programs and applications hosted on a personal or group account must review and follow applicable principles of the IEEE-CS/ACM's "Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice." Students offering applications hosted on a personal or group account using a username and password login system have special responsibilities as "software engineers" and should take note of the following sections of the ACM Code of Ethics: 1.01 - 1.07, 3.03, 3.10, 3.12, 3.13, 3.14, 4.01, 5.12, 7.05.
  6. Students developing applications on College systems requiring individual login for membership and offering membership to the broader Grinnell College community have more stringent rules to follow. In the case of virtual communities* based at Grinnell College, Grinnell software authors must ensure compliance with College policies regarding accepted student community standards in addition to standards of academic computer use. For example, one of the "Core Values of Grinnell College," as stated in the Grinnell College catalog is that the College encourages "personal, egalitarian, and respectful interactions among all members of the community." Accordingly, Grinnell software authors must publish clear, complete, and publicly available guidelines detailing acceptable behavior & membership policies for the virtual community. Due process must be ensured before any sanctions of members are carried out. The software authors must make provision for appropriate Grinnell College staff to have full access to the virtual community. Communities or individuals in violation of the Academic Computer Use Policies or standards of student community at Grinnell College are subject to immediate disconnection from the campus network pending completion of review procedures by Information Technology Services or Student Affairs, as appropriate. Accordingly, a system of logging of the community entries on a nightly basis must be in place in order to establish an evidential base for proper hearings of complaints brought by students, faculty or staff to appropriate College committees or boards. The content of any student or student group virtual community must not be viewable by non-members of that community, either directly or via internet search engines. The members of student-created virtual communities must be current students, faculty, staff, or Trustees and members of these groups cannot be excluded from a virtual community on an a priori basis.
  7. Each account owner or manager is responsible for all computing activities involving that account and will be held liable for any misuse of that account.
  8. Any exception to the access policies stated above must be approved by the Director of Information Technology Services.

B. Proper Use of Computing Resources

  1. Grinnell College's computing resources may not be used for any activity which is contradictory to the educational goals of the College as defined in the Grinnell College Catalog.
  2. Grinnell College's computing resources may not be used for any activity which violates the College's policies on academic honesty as defined in the Grinnell College Catalog.
  3. Grinnell College's computing resources may not be used for any activities which violate state or federal laws. Computing resources may not be used to intimidate, threaten or harass individuals, or violate the college's policies concerning relationships between college constituencies. Such activities include, but are not limited to, using computing resources to store, print, or send obscene, slanderous, or threatening messages. Using electronic messaging to contact strangers (e.g., "Who are you?" messages) is considered a form of harassment. Please review the Grinnell College Student Handbook for definitions of harassment and "hate crimes."
  4. Grinnell College's computing resources may not be used for profit-making or commercial purposes unless special arrangements have been made with the college. In addition, soliciting donations using services such as the WWW servers is prohibited.
  5. Use of Grinnell College's computing resources for the purposes of partisan political lobbying via mass electronic mailings and/or mass printing is prohibited. Authors should not use the name of the College in any way that implies endorsement of the author's personal ideas and opinions.
  6. No person may store or use programs on college-owned systems which violate or hamper another person's use of computing resources. Examples of such programs are ones which attempt to obtain another user's password, acquire another user's files, circumvent system security measures, crash the computer system, harass users, etc. The devising and/or spreading of computer viruses is expressly forbidden.
  7. The use of computer games is strictly prohibited on college-owned microcomputers, except as assignments for courses in which the student is registered. Users of MathLAN should consult the Mathematics Department regarding the games policy on MathLAN systems.
  8. Every user is expected to use the computing facilities in a manner which does not infringe upon the use of those facilities by other people and which does not waste "soft" resources (e.g., computer time) or "hard'' resources (e.g., paper, disk space, documentation materials). The printing of multiple copies of a document is forbidden.
  9. Anyone wishing to send a mass, unsolicited e-mail to others on campus need prior approval by the appropriate department(s).
    Specifically, someone who wishes to send an e-mail to all students on campus should make a request to the Office of Student Services (x3700).
    Someone wanting to send an e-mail to all staff on campus should make a request to the Office of Human Resources via email at If the request is urgent, please call (x4818).
    Someone wanting to send an e-mail to all faculty on campus should make a request to the Office of the Dean of the College (x3100).
    If the e-mail is to go to all users at Grinnell (faculty, staff, and students), please make a request to the Office of the Dean of College Services (x4300)
    Users may not send anonymous mail, mail with altered headers giving erroneous information ( e.g., an erroneous "sender" name), or anonymous files from anywhere on campus.
  10. All users accessing inter-campus networks using College-owned computers must know and respect the rules and policies of that network.
  11. General college-wide policies, as detailed in the Grinnell College Student Handbook, apply to the College's computer laboratories. Thus, smoking, eating and drinking, and making excessive noise is prohibited in these facilities.
  12. Users of the computing labs should refer to relevant statements of procedure posted on bulletin boards in each of these labs.
  13. Advice to Authors of WWW Pages Grinnell College supports the free expression and exchange of ideas and opinions and hopes that users of its computer systems will actively explore the possibilities of electronic publication on the World Wide Web. The College encourages students, faculty, and staff to develop and publish WWW pages through its servers the domain. 
    • Exercising one's right to free speech in an academic community, however, also entails some responsibilities that authors should be aware of:
    • It is improper and inappropriate to use the College's World Wide Web servers purposely to annoy, abuse, libel, threaten, or harass anyone, individually or collectively, or to violate state or federal laws.
    • It is improper to make Grinnell College directory information (regarding faculty, students and staff) viewable by off-campus computer users.
    • The author of a text or the creator of a graphic is protected by copyright law unless she specifically releases her work into the public domain. Other authors should not copy such texts or graphics onto their own WWW pages without the original author's permission.
    • In particular, authors should secure the permission of Grinnell College before using the College logo or reproducing parts of any College publication, and should not use the name of the College in any way that implies endorsement of the author's personal ideas and opinions.
    • According to the Student Handbook, a Grinnell College student who wishes to start a business or to organize a fund-raising campaign must have prior approval and should apply to the Dean of Student Affairs.
    • According to the College's Academic Computer Use Policies, no one may use the World Wide Web servers for any activity that violates the College's policies on academic honesty.
    • The College's computing resources are finite. If one user's WWW pages are so frequently accessed or involve the transmission of such large amounts of data that other uses of the equipment are impeded, the system administrators may remove the pages. (Normally, the user will first be given the opportunity to find a different Internet service provider better equipped to distribute those pages.)
  14. Computer users should not open up microcomputers, printers, or other peripheral devices. Problems with equipment should be reported to Information Technology Services via email or telephone. Users should not put transparencies or special paper into laser printers since this frequently causes the printer to jam. Users should not attach peripheral devices to microcomputers.

C. Use of Licensed Software and Copyrighted Electronic Materials

  1. No user is allowed to store or use personal, private, or departmental copies of licensed software (any software not provided by ITS other than software explicitly identified as freeware or public domain) on any Grinnell College computer system or network unless the user provides ITS with copies of the license agreement for the software and proof of ownership or purchase. It will be that person's responsibility to assure that installation of personal or private copies complies with the provisions of the license agreement. In general, ITS will not permit the installation of personal or private copies of software on laboratory computers. The author of a text or the creator of a graphic is protected by copyright law unless she or he specifically releases that work into the public domain. Users should always obtain written permission from the original authors before copying electronic materials that are not in the public domain.
  2. Stolen or bootleg copies of software are not allowed on any Grinnell College computing system.
  3. All shareware programs must be registered in accordance with their license and use provisions.
  4. No user may copy, or attempt to copy, any proprietary or licensed software provided or installed by ITS. This includes software that is provided for use on microcomputers. The College subscribes to the 1993 Educom Code - A Guide to the Ethical and Legal Use of Software for Members of the Academic Community on microcomputer software. A copy of those guidelines, "Using Software: A Guide to the Ethical and Legal Use of Software for Members of the Academic Community," is attached to this document.

IV. Allocation and Maintenance of Computing Resources

A. Quotas

Each account is assigned storage space (a "quota'') on one or more disk storage devices. Adequate storage is given to each user when their account is created.

Users may apply for additional quota by filling out request forms located at the Information Technology Services office. Before granting a request for additional storage from a student user, the Director of Information Technology Services or their representative may meet with the user and review the appropriateness of the request and the current use of disk storage. The user may be required to show that currently stored programs and files lie within the guidelines laid out in this document. Additional space is granted (if it is available), when it can be established that current storage is properly used and that the request is related to the educational missions of the college.

Information Technology Services may take up to 10 working days to respond to an application for additional storage.

In addition, storage for email messages is granted on the mail server.

B. Account Maintenance

Each account owner or manager is responsible for maintaining the account and files stored in the account. This maintenance includes removing old and unused files, reading the start up news to be aware of changes in computing procedures, and changing the account password regularly to prevent other users from gaining access to the account.

C. Account and File Security

ITS makes strong efforts to maintain the security of account names, numbers, passwords, directories, and files. However, no computer system is completely secure, and it is possible that some user could gain access to another user's accounts through actions or accidents beyond reasonable control. Each user must take full advantage of password and file protection security mechanisms provided by the computer systems.

D. File Backups

ITS performs regular backup procedures to maintain relatively current copies of all users' files stored on network file servers. In addition, ITS copies onto backup media all files in all users' accounts in January and June. Senior accounts are removed in June after backup. Seniors wishing to retain their accounts should notify ITS in writing prior to the deletion. Semester back-up tapes are saved for a period of two years.

E. Notification of Changes in the Computing Environment

ITS will announce all non-transparent changes in operating procedures, hardware and software at least one week before the change is to take place. Such announcements will be made using the online startup NEWS program, using messages which appear automatically when the user signs on to the central computers, or with notices in the Campus MEMO, or by other appropriate means.

V. Policy Enforcement and Modifications

A. Interpretation of Policies

The ITS staff is responsible for interpreting the general computing philosophy and policies of the College, and for implementing operational procedures to support the philosophy and policies.

B. Examination of Computer Accounts

ITS reserves the right to examine any information stored in any account on any college computer system. The Vice-President for Academic Affairs or Director of Information Technology Services may authorize examination by an ITS staff member of any files, programs, passwords, accounting information, printouts, tapes, or other computing media used on college computer systems. A user whose computing information has been examined will be notified of the reason for the examination and of any actions taken by ITS as a consequence of that examination.

C. Violations of Computing Policies

  1. The college may take disciplinary and/or legal action against any individual who violates any computing policies.
  2. ITS may temporarily or permanently suspend an individual's use of all or part of the college computing facilities in response to computing violations on one type of system. Specifically, a student who has misused a communication facility (such as campus electronic mail, Internet, or PHONE) for the first time will have all computer communication facilities suspended for one month while school is in session. A second violation will result in suspension of communication facilities for one semester. Additional violations will result in the suspension of all computing privileges. In addition to computer sanctions, a student may have charges filed against them with the appropriate judicial body on campus. ITS will investigate complaints it receives from computer users at other institutions when those complaints pertain to messages that are sent by on-campus users. If ITS finds that threatening, obscene, or harassing messages have been sent by a Grinnell College student to someone off-campus, the complaint will be referred to the Computer Telephone Hearing Board.
    A student who has committed an offense such as breaking into another person's account, destroying another person's files, etc., will have all computing privileges suspended and Information Technology Services will initiate campus judicial action. The account will remain suspended pending the results of this action.
    Other violations may also result in the suspension of computing privileges and/or the initiation of judicial action. When a student's account will be suspended for a period longer than one week, ITS reserves the right to sign that user off all inter-campus mail distribution systems. See Section II, B 1.
  3. ITS will report any violation of computing policies which bear on academic dishonesty or plagiarism to the Academic Honesty Sub-Committee of the Committee on Academic Standing (CAS). The CAS will pursue such reports by their usual procedures. This process will be independent of computer sanctions.
  4. A student suspected of violating Computer Use Policies will be notified via campus mail or telephone. The student must respond to the notification within 5 working days by contacting the Systems Coordinator (or designated alternate) at Information Technology Services in order to set up an appointment. If the student fails to respond to the notification, their case will be forwarded to the Computer/Telephone Hearing Board for disciplinary action.
  5. It should be understood that the above policies do not preclude prosecution in cases of criminal misconduct under the laws and regulations of the City of Grinnell, the State of Iowa and the United States of America.

D. Modifications of Computing Policies

Students who have suggestions about Information Technology Services policies or procedures should contact the Student Academic Computing Committee (SACC). The SACC will discuss the matter with the Director of Information Technology Services.

If an individual disagrees with a college computing policy or with an implementation of that policy, the individual should first discuss the matter with the Director of Information Technology Services. If the concern is not resolved, the individual may notify the Chair of the Instructional Support Committee. The Chair may then convene an ad hoc committee to gather information, review the concern, and advise the Vice-President for Academic Affairs of its findings. The Vice-President will make the final decision on the matter.

* Note: "Virtual communities", a term coined by Howard Rheingold, are comprised of a group of people sharing common interests, ideas, and feelings over the Internet or other collaborative networks (see TechTarget's definition of virtual community). Students offering applications of this type bear special responsibilities since the software product they offer is more than executable code, rather, the software features of membership, interpersonal communication, and a long time horizon sometimes engender strong feelings of community. Community is characterized by shared values, goals, concerns, routines, procedures, practices, rituals, symbols, artifacts, history and institutions as well as mutual commitment and responsibility to the community and to community members, not necessarily based on personal relationships.)

We use cookies to enable essential services and functionality on our site, enhance your user experience, provide better service through personalized content, collect data on how visitors interact with our site, and enable advertising services.

To accept the use of cookies and continue on to the site, click "I Agree." For more information about our use of cookies and how to opt out, please refer to our website privacy policy.