Policy for the Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources
Oberlin College provides a wide range of computing
resources in order to support the educational mission and administration
of the college. The Irvin E. Houck Center for Information Technology
(CIT) provides and maintains the campus network, administrative systems,
web servers and other servers, general and departmental computer labs
and facilities, and institutionally-owned desktop and laptop computers.
CIT provides additional services, including operation of a main Help
Desk and an after-hours Help Desk, as well as sales and service of computers,
peripherals, and software through the Oberlin College Technology Store.
CIT also provides audiovisual and educational technology resources and
The facilities of CIT have become an essential
resource for academic, administrative, and research processes for members
of the college community. As such, all members of the college community
are encouraged to use these resources, provided they respect the rights
of others, abide by the rules and regulations of the college, and assume
shared responsibility for safeguarding the college’s computing environment.
Proper and fair use is essential if all are to derive maximum benefit
This policy may be modified at any time. Use
of CIT resources is considered an agreement to abide by this policy.
Users found in violation may be subject to penalties of varying degree,
including temporary or permanent denial of access to CIT resources and
services. Violators may also be subject to action by college, civil,
or criminal judicial systems.
In making information technology resources
available to all members of the college community, Oberlin College affirms
its commitment to a free and open educational environment, conducive
to learning and governed by legal and ethical principles. Oberlin College
values the free flow of information. The college respects individual
privacy, civility, and intellectual property rights. Because an electronic
environment is easily disrupted and electronic information is readily
copied, users of the college’s resources are honor-bound to promote
and protect these institutional values.
Under normal circumstances, college officials
will not examine personal information transmitted over the network or
stored on college-owned computers. However, the college reserves the
right to monitor system resources, including activity and accounts,
with or without notice, when:
- It is necessary to protect the integrity,
security, or functionality of college computing resources.
- An account or system is engaged in unusual or excessive activity.
It has good cause to believe that regulations, rules, or laws are being
Additionally, the normal operation and maintenance
of the college’s computing resources requires the backup of data,
the logging of activity, the monitoring of general usage patterns, and
other such activities as may be necessary in order to provide desired
Access to computing resources and network capacity
is a privilege to which all college faculty, staff, and students are
entitled. (Access may be granted to other individuals affiliated with
the college or college personnel, as situations warrant and with approval
from the director of information technology.) Certain responsibilities
correspond with that privilege, including those listed below. Since
no list can cover all possible circumstances, the spirit of this policy
must be respected, namely; any action that hinders legitimate computer
usage or invades the privacy of another person or institution is unacceptable.
1. USE OF CIT FACILITIES
- All facilities of the Center for Information Technology,
including those located in remote sites, are for the use of Oberlin
College students, faculty, and staff. Spouses, partners, and children
of members of these groups, with qualified needs, may apply to the Director
of Information Technology for the privilege of using CIT facilities.
Residents of Oberlin, Lorain County, or others, who have been granted
library privileges are not automatically permitted to use CIT facilities.
- Users must not abuse equipment and are asked to report any
mistreatment or vandalism of computing or network facilities to CIT
staff (Mudd Level A) or to the Office of Safety and Security at (440)
775-8444. Food is discouraged in all CIT computer facilities, including
remote sites operated by the CIT, because of potential harm to equipment.
Beverages in approved containers (sturdy, covered, reusable containers)
- Users should relinquish the computer they are using if they
are doing nonessential work when others are waiting for a computer to
perform course-related activities. Equipment should not be monopolized.
Users should not use more than one computer at a time and should plan
work so that the computer session is no longer than absolutely necessary. Game playing in CIT-maintained computer facilities/labs
is prohibited at all times.
- Users should not install software, alter
system files, or disconnect any cables on computers or other equipment.
- Users are expected to respect other users
and the staff of the Center for Information Technology. Verbal or physical
abuse of others, student or staff, will not be tolerated. A user must
show an Oberlin College ID card to any CIT staff member or CIT student
employee who so requests.
- Users must respect all notices (such as those concerning
hours of operation, printing, etc.) posted in CIT facilities.
- Computers assigned to faculty and staff for the duration
of their employment at Oberlin College remain the property of Oberlin
College and should be treated as such. These computers may be upgraded,
as warranted, and must be relinquished in order for any required repairs
to be performed. Note that termination of employment could result in
the immediate inability to access one’s assigned computer. Accordingly,
users are encouraged to use personally-owned computers to store or process
2. LEGAL USAGE
- Information technology resources may not be used for illegal
or harmful purposes, including:
Intentional harassment of others.
Intentional destruction or damage to equipment, software, or data.
Intentional disruption or unauthorized monitoring of electronic communications.
- Software is normally distributed under
three kinds of licenses: proprietary, public distribution, and shareware.
Unless otherwise indicated, users should assume all software made available
by CIT is proprietary and may not be legally copied.
- CIT will not knowingly provide support for software that
a user possesses in violation of its license agreement. Consultants
and staff may ask for proof of ownership before helping users with their
- CIT will not knowingly allow illegally acquired software
to be used on Oberlin-owned computers. CIT will remove any suspect software
loaded onto Oberlin College-owned computers or servers.
- CIT will not knowingly
allow use of its resources (computers, equipment, network, etc.) For
the illegal copying of digital media and files. Note: U.S. Copyright
law protects copyright owners from the unauthorized reproduction, adaptation,
or distribution of digital material, including the unauthorized use
of copyrighted sound recordings (e.g., Music files), video files, and
interactive digital software (i.e., Video games).
3. ETHICAL USAGE
- Users should not use information technology resources, including
personally-owned computers connected to the college network, for noncollege,
unsanctioned, commercial activity.
- Users should make no attempt to alter
the condition or status of any computing network component in any manner.
- Users should make no attempt to alter
software other than their own, or to copy software intended only for
- Users should not interfere with, interrupt,
or obstruct the ability of others to use the network or other CIT resources.
- Users should not attempt to connect to
a host via the network without explicit permission of the owner.
- Users should not provide, assist in,
or gain unauthorized access to college computing or network resources.
- Users should not attempt to circumvent
or defeat computer or network security measures.
- Users should not systematically collect and use any privately or
publicly available college data or content, including users’
personal directory and account information, through the use of data
mining, robots, or similar gathering and extraction methods.
- The college uses various measures to ensure the security
of its computing resources. Users should be aware that the college cannot
guarantee such security and should apply appropriate safeguards for
their accounts, such as guarding their passwords and changing passwords
regularly (required for e-mail accounts), and logging out of computers
- Users should be aware that data stored
and used within OCApps (online applications powered by Google) is inherently
nonsecure and is also not backed up. Thus, users must not place any
confidential, sensitive or personal data within any of the available
OCApps, and should not use OCApps as a primary storage location for
vital data (alternative storage media should also be used).
- Systems administrators of other departmental and individual
computer systems are responsible for the security of information stored
on those systems and for keeping those systems free from unauthorized
- The default protection setting on CIT servers defines all
files as belonging exclusively to their owner. Unless the owner changes
the protection level, no file may be read, executed, or modified by
users other than the owner. The only exception to this understanding
is that designated members of the CIT staff may examine accounts or
files of users to investigate security problems, possible abuse of the
Oberlin College computing system, or violations of regulations.
5. ACCOUNT USAGE
- Account holders should use only their own personal accounts
unless given permission by an authorized member of the faculty, administration,
or professional staff to use one that is designated for a specific purpose
or job. Account holders may not allow others to use their personal accounts.
The person holding an account is responsible for its use, and all activity
originating from that account, at all times.
- Account holders should protect their passwords and keep
them confidential. Passwords should be changed frequently. Any problem
resulting from irresponsible use of a password (e.g., a password that
can be easily guessed or oral or written dissemination of a password)
may be treated as grounds for action against the account holder. Any
attempt to determine the passwords of other users is strictly prohibited.
- Account holders should not abuse any electronic
mail, bulletin board, or communications system, either local or remote,
by sending rude, obscene, or harassing messages (including chain letters)
or by using these systems for nonessential purposes during times when
the computers are in heavy demand. Account holders should identify themselves
clearly and accurately in all electronic communications, i.e., no anonymous
postings. Unofficial mass e-mailings (i.e., spam) are prohibited.
- d. Account holders should use only their own files, those that
have been designated as public, or those that have been made available
to them with the knowledge and consent of the owner.
- Individual Oberlin College accounts (@oberlin.edu e-mail
accounts, web accounts, etc.) are created for the express use of the
individual for whom the accounts are created, but remain the property
of Oberlin College. Accounts may be viewed in circumstances such as
those delineated in paragraph b. above. Faculty and staff accounts may
also be accessed to recover work-related information in the event of
the termination of employment, or the incapacitation or demise of the
employee. Accordingly, faculty and staff account holders may wish to
consider acquiring a non-Oberlin account for personal correspondence.
6. NETWORK USAGE
The following are
responsibilities that are particularly applicable to Oberlin’s campus-wide
- Only computers that have been properly virus checked, updated,
and authenticated through established procedures may be connected to
the campus network, unless otherwise authorized and established by CIT.
Users must not attempt to circumvent this process.
- The person recognized as the owner of an authenticated
computer system is responsible for that computer’s use, and all activity
originating from that computer, at all times.
- Excessive or improper use of network resources that inhibits
or interferes with use by others is prohibited and will be a cause for
action by CIT, which may include restricting, limiting, or disabling
- Users who connect computers to the network that act as servers
have the additional responsibility to respond to any use of their server
that is found to be in violation of this policy.
- In no case shall the following types of servers be connected
to the network: DNS, DHCP, BOOTP, or any other server that manages network
- Due to the serious negative impact on network availability
created by misconfigured routers and wireless access points (WAPs),
all routers and WAPs, except those configured and used by CIT, or devices,
which function as routers or WAPs, are disallowed.
Violations of this
policy will be adjudicated, as deemed appropriate, and may include the
- Loss of computing privileges.
- Disconnection from the network.
- Oberlin College Judicial Board action.
- Prosecution under applicable civil or criminal laws.
Because of the rapid changes in technology, it is impossible to enumerate
all of the circumstances that would constitute a violation of this Acceptable
Use Policy. Additional circumstances that violate the spirit of the
policy may be subject to the above penalties. Computer users should
view the Center for Information Technology website for any updates to
these policies (new.oberlin.edu/office/cit/). Additional pertinent information
and details may also be found there.