Acceptable Use Of Information Technology


The purpose of this Policy on the Acceptable Use of Information Technology is to inform and educate the Central community of the rights and responsibilities associated with use of the College’s information technology resources. This policy applies to students, faculty, staff and anyone else who is authorized to use these resources.


Central College is committed to providing integrated and comprehensive technologies to enhance teaching and learning and to improve productivity. Central provides students, faculty and staff with open access to a wide range of computing resources, digital information and communication networks that are basic to the academic, research and administrative functions of the college.

A balanced approach between user rights and responsibilities guides this policy on the appropriate use of college information technology resources. Central College is the official owner of its technology resources, and the college reserves the right to deny use to those who do not use them responsibly. Users must adhere to all applicable laws and college policies and to the acceptable uses of information technology as defined in this policy. We expect all users to meet the highest standards of ethics and responsibility. One’s use of technology must not infringe upon the rights of other users, interfere with the normal operation of computing systems and software, or consume an unfair share of system resources.

The College strives to protect the privacy of its users and supports the use of technology for the free expression of ideas. As an academic community, the students, faculty, and staff of Central College must respect the privacy of data, honor intellectual property, and respect the rights of others. Users must adhere completely to copyright laws and guidelines, remembering that the same provisions of copyright ownership and fair use that apply in the print environment apply to digital resources. Users are required to respect license agreements controlling the copying and use of computer software, library online databases and data files such as text, audio, graphics, video, etc.

Those who access resources whether on campus or external to campus should do so responsibly and in a way that constitutes respectful behavior as defined in employee, student, and faculty policies. All communications whether internal or external must fall within the standards outlined in the Guiding Principles for Respectful Dialogue, Anti-Sexual and Relationship Misconduct Policy, and Anti-Discrimination, Anti-Harassment, Anti-Retaliation Policy.

Students, faculty, staff, and anyone else authorized to use Central College technology resources are responsible for reading, understanding and complying with this Policy on the Acceptable Use of Information Technology. Central strives to educate the community in responsible use and will respond when violations are pointed out.

Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the Chief Information Officer, Information Technology Services (641-628-7671).

Academic Freedom

Central College is committed to the free flow of ideas and the freedom of electronic speech shall be fully protected. Technology resources are fundamental to communication, learning, research, publishing, and the creation of knowledge. This Policy on the Acceptable Use of Information Technology does not hinder the free exchange of ideas which are at the core of the academic process. The Board of Trustees and Faculty of Central College have endorsed the statements found under Faculty Policies on Academic Freedom and Tenure and the Statement on Professional Ethics. The content of electronic communication, teaching, and learning materials at Central College is not censored. However, the College reserves the right to protect itself from liabilities posed by the electronic behavior of members of the College if these behaviors are illegal or violate College policies.

Authorized Users

Current Central College faculty, staff and students (fulltime or part-time) may use technology resources. Central College graduates may have access to technology resources systems for up to four months after leaving Central College. IT Services reserves the right to limit the amount of access and type of service provided.

Faculty Emeriti and retired staff may have limited access to Central College technology resources. IT Services reserves the right to limit the amount of access and type of service provided. Campus visitors and guests directly associated with official college activities may have limited access to technology resources.

For more details on authorized users, see Technology Resource Access Policy and Computer Lab Usage Policy.

Use of Technology Resources

Only acceptable uses are permitted. Acceptable uses include those which enhance teaching, learning and research. They support internal and external communication and collaboration in concert with Central’s mission. They promote productivity and the official work of students, faculty, staff, offices, departments, recognized student and campus organizations and agencies of the college. Personal use of technology is also permissible as long as it does not interfere with other appropriate uses or violate other college policies.

Unacceptable uses include:

  • Accessing or attempting to access a computer system or network using a false or assumed username or password
  • Unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted materials; infringement of trademark law (protected materials may include software, text, audio, graphics, video, etc.)
  • Use of technology to download, store or distribute pirated materials (See also Peer-to-Peer File Sharing and Academic Integrity.)
  • Email harassment; spamming; chain letters; hoaxes; falsifying mail headers
  • Use of technology to intentionally access, create, store or transmit pornographic materials
  • Accessing violence-oriented or harassment-oriented websites unless such information is being used for an academic class
  • Damaging any system by introducing computer viruses, worms, or spyware
  • Unauthorized attempts to alter data files or systems
  • Disrupting or degrading the performance of computer, network, website, or e-mail systems
  • Any action compromising or attempting to compromise the integrity or security of computer systems or networks, whether internal or external to campus
  • Sharing or revealing individual or organizational authorizations and passwords (See also the Security section below.)
  • Unauthorized access to email, voice mail, or other communications intended for others
  • Use of technology resources to impersonate another individual or entity
  • Unauthorized use of technology to access non-public (confidential) information
  • Intentional damaging, disabling, or removal of software or hardware
  • Use of technology resources for commercial purposes or personal financial gain
  • Implying in any way that Central College is directly involved in political campaigns or campaign fundraising
  • Any other activity that violates state or federal laws, or college policies


Computers connected to Central’s computer networks, whether owned personally or by the College, must be protected with up-to-date anti-virus software and must have the latest operating system security fixes installed. IT Services regularly installs anti-virus and security updates on college computers remotely. Individuals must take similar action manually on their personally owned computers. IT Services may remotely check personally owned computers for anti-virus and security compliance when users first connect to the network and periodically thereafter.

IT Services will from time to time establish and publish minimum requirements for personally owned computers to be allowed to connect to Central’s data network.

Each individual is responsible for protecting his/her password for access to college resources. Each user is responsible for all actions taken and uses of computer systems made under that individual’s username. Faculty, staff, students and guests must not tell others their passwords, post them in visible areas, or otherwise communicate a password to anyone other than IT Services personnel. (In special circumstances, staff members may be asked to tell their password to their immediate supervisor.) Users who have reason to believe that their password has been compromised must change it immediately.

Privacy & Confidentiality

Central College is committed to protecting the privacy of authorized users of its technology resources. Despite this intention, it cannot assure members of the Central College community that their uses of college computing and communications resources will be completely private. Information and messages sent over the Internet can be intercepted in various ways. Therefore, users of Central College technology with access to the Internet cannot assume that information they send over the Internet will be or remain confidential and inaccessible to anyone other than the intended recipient. Information stored on college computing resources, or passed through college communications networks may be accessible to the public through public record laws, subpoenas, interception, “hacking” or other means.

Central does not routinely or without cause monitor an individual’s network activity or electronic files. However, Central College owns and maintains the computer and communication technology used by its students, faculty and staff, and has the right and responsibility to periodically access files to service and repair these systems and to ensure that college policies and applicable laws are observed.

IT Services remotely manages college-owned computers from a centralized management console. This capability includes the ability to view computer screens remotely. Affected individuals will be given advance warning of such operations whenever possible.

Central College will not access or monitor computer accounts, use of technology resources, or other electronic resources except when:

  • The user(s) authorizes such access
  • The College tracks long distance phone use for billing
  • The user has voluntarily made information accessible to the public by posting it to a listserv or web page
  • It appears necessary to protect the integrity, security or functionality of College resources or to protect the College from liability
  • There is reasonable cause to believe that the user has violated or is violating this acceptable use policy or other college policies
  • An account appears to be engaged in unusual or excessive activity
  • It is otherwise required by law

In general, information stored on computers is considered confidential, whether protected by the computer operating system or not, unless the owner intentionally makes that information available to other groups or individuals. Central College will assume that computer users wish the information they store on campus local and shared computing resources to remain confidential. Similarly, privileged information on account usage (i.e., that available only to users with system privileges) will be held in confidence.

Central College employees, and students working in campus offices, who because of their work have access to non-public (confidential) information about others must not disclose that information. Employees must protect from the view of visitors non-public information displayed on computer screens. Employees must agree to and observe the Employment Confidentiality Agreement and Confidentiality Policy as maintained by the Human Resources office.

Employees who access Central College non-public information from off campus either through remote connection or by portable device, must take special precautions to ensure that information does not become accessible to others and that devices are not lost or stolen.

When college computers are removed from service, IT Services will completely erase all data and software from local storage drives before the computer leaves campus. If the computer will be reused, IT Services may reinstall operating system software consistent with applicable license agreements.

Requests for disclosure of confidential information will be reviewed by the administrator of the information system involved. Such requests will be honored only when approved by college officials authorized by the campus or when required by state or federal law.


The Central College websites provide Internet access to college information resources and external information sources that support teaching, learning, marketing and the administration of the college. Information is provided by the Office of College Relations, IT Services, the Library, various administrative and academic units, faculty, staff, and students. The websites’ purposes are to enhance communication and learning and to help inform decision-making by providing current information.

Faculty, staff and students may have personal home pages. Personal pages reflect the thoughts, interests and activities of these individuals. They do not implicitly or explicitly represent the official positions or policies of Central College. Page maintainers assume sole responsibility and liability for the content of their sites including seeking permission to post copyrighted materials. Use of technology to create, store or make available pornographic materials is prohibited.

The following information must be readily available on all personal web pages:

  • Accurate authorship attribution including the name of the unit or group represented by the page
  • A means of contacting the person(s) responsible for maintaining the page content
  • The date of the last revision

Central College accepts no responsibility for content on servers not maintained by the college that are linked from pages on Central College’s servers.


E-mail at Central College is a service provided to enhance communication regarding teaching, learning and the general operations of the college. E-mail accounts are available to every student, staff, and faculty member of the college. All students are required to have a Central College e-mail account and to check it regularly.

Central College Mass E-Mails

The official mass email service is restricted to those messages that meet one or more of the following standards:

  • Provides essential information for the operation or execution of daily business;
  • Notifies the campus community of significant events or changes in governance, policy, and practice;
  • Alerts the campus community to situations around health and safety, as defined in the Central Emergency Communication and Mangement Plan; or
  • Communicates important information from the Senior Leadership Team.

Mass emails that do not meet these requirements of urgency and/or critical information should seek other methods.

Central College has created specific e-mail lists to enhance communication among and between groups on campus, for example, lists for faculty, students, and staff or for campus discussions.  Review the Guidelines for Mass E-mails document for proper authorization of intercampus e-mails.  Personal advertisements and discussion oriented postings are not appropriate for mass distribution via the Employee list or any of its sub-lists.

Messages may be posted to the Students list only by those having special permission

Unacceptable E-Mail Use

The following uses of e-mail are considered inappropriate and unacceptable by Central College:

  • Harassing or hate mail; any mail sent to individuals that is abusive, threatening, or discriminatory toward others
  • Initiating or retransmitting viruses, worms, virus hoaxes or any harmful software
  • Chain mail that misuses or disrupts resources; E-mail sent repeatedly from user to user, with requests to send to others.
  • Sending large quantities of email to an individual’s mailbox (e.g., email “spamming”) which has the effect of interfering with or causing impairment to that individual’s activities
  • Posting or sending personal, sensitive or confidential information about another person, including medical information about an employee or student, via any form of electronic communication
  • False identification; any messages that misrepresent or fail to accurately identify the true originator
  • Any message that violates a policy of the College.

Central College E-Mail Lists

Central College has created specific e-mail lists to enhance communication among and between groups on campus, for example lists for faculty, students, and staff or for campus discussions. Mailing lists facilitate mass e-mailing and should be used responsibly.

Messages may be posted to the Students list only by those having special permission. Messages may be posted to the Employees list only by employees. Messages posted to the Employees list or to any of its sub-lists should be of general professional interest to the members of that list or sub-list. Personal advertisements and discussion oriented postings are not appropriate for mass distribution via the Employee list or any of its sub-lists.

Copyright at Central College

Central College students, faculty and staff must be familiar with and adhere to current U.S. Copyright Law. The ease with which original works can be copied and transmitted anywhere in the world has led to greater need to understand these laws.

Copyright is of great importance to us as we pursue our educational mission. It is in our interest to protect the intellectual property that we may create and to exercise “fair use” of copyrighted works that we may be using in our research, teaching and learning. As an educational community, we realize that all educational use may not be “fair use.” We must be prepared to ask for permission to copy when statutory exemptions do not apply, to pay copyright fees, to use existing licenses or to purchase additional licenses or copies of works in order to comply with copyright.

Copyright law is very complex. What follows is general information about some aspects of copyright and guidelines to help us comply. This information is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney.

Copyright is a form of protection provided by U.S. Copyright law to the authors of “original works of authorship.”

An original work is protected by copyright as soon as the work is “fixed in any tangible medium of expression.” An official notice of copyright is no longer required to protect an original work; nor must a work be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office to be protected by copyright law. Most copyrights today last for the life of the author plus 70 years.

Copyright protects a wide range of resources including, but not limited to: books, articles, photographs, paintings, sculptures, architectural works, dramas, music, sound recordings, ballets, motion pictures and other audio-visuals, software, and websites.

Owner’s Exclusive Rights

The law grants the copyright owner (author, publisher, producer, artist) five “exclusive rights” to do and authorize others to do the following:

  • To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords
  • To prepare derivative works based on the work
  • To distribute of copies of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease or lending
  • To perform the work publicly in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • To display the work publicly in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic or sculptural works including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
  • To perform publicly sound recordings by means of digital audio transmission

A copyright infringement may occur when someone other than the copyright owner exercises any of these exclusive rights. Possible infringements include photocopying, uploading to websites, sharing files, copying software, public film exhibitions, and music performances. Creating web pages for educational and research purposes, digitizing and transmitting works for courses, or producing e-portfolios are examples of activities that may involve incorporation of copyrighted works and are governed by copyright law.

Fair Use Doctrine

The 1976 Copyright Act grants “Fair Use.” This doctrine is a defense against copyright infringement. Fair Use allows and encourages socially beneficial uses of copyright works. It attempts to balance the protection of the rights of the author with the needs of society.

Under fair use, the copyright owner is not remunerated because use is “minimal” and “in the public interest.” Individuals and non-profit and educational institutions have some special protection when reproducing copyrighted materials without prior permission of the copyright owner.

Examples of uses that may be protected under Fair Use are copying a portion of a copyrighted work for the purposes of:

  • Criticism
  • Comment
  • News reporting
  • Teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use)
  • Scholarship
  • Research

Central College employees and students must evaluate and balance the following four factors when making any determination of whether use is “fair”:

  • Purpose and character of use (educational, personal, nonprofit vs. commercial)
  • Nature of the work (facts/information vs. creative; published vs. unpublished)
  • Amount used or copied in relation to the work as a whole (small and not the heart of the work)
  • Effect of copying on the potential market for, or the value of, the original work. (cannot substitute for purchase of original or payment of fees for use of copyrighted material)

All four factors come into play when the courts decide on copyright violations. When in doubt, users should seek permission from the copyright owner before making copies. The Copyright Management Center of Indiana University provides an excellent Fair Use checklist which can to help us weigh whether factors favor or oppose fair use.

Technology Education and Copyright Harmonization Act: TEACH Act of 2002

The TEACH Act broadens copyright exemption for accredited, nonprofit educational institutions, permitting them to transmit copyright protected materials via digital networks without need for prior permission from the copyright owner. TEACH contains many conditions, limits and restrictions related to institutional policies, technological control requirements, and instructional planning.

In compliance, Central College has adopted this copyright policy and makes copyright informational materials available to its users (Geisler Library: Copyright and Academic Integrity). IT Services and the Library have developed and implemented technological methods to control access to copyrighted works. In the case of Central’s course management system Blackboard, the College provides secure storage and controls dissemination of copyrighted materials.

Faculty who wish to incorporate copyrighted works into digital transmissions for instructional purposes including on Blackboard, must do so within the context and limits of TEACH, Fair Use, and other copyright laws.

For more information and help with copyright issues, contact the Geisler Library Director (641-628-5220).

Software Licenses

Copying computer software in violation of the license agreement, or receiving copied software from someone else, is a criminal act.

IT Services maintains inventory records to ensure that software provided on college computers is properly licensed from the publisher by Central College. It is forbidden to copy or attempt to copy college-owned software from college computers. Software that cannot be shown to be legally obtained is not permitted on college computers.

See Central’s Software Policy for more information.

Peer-to-Peer File Sharing

Peer-to-peer file sharing software is not permitted on college-owned computers except when required for a specific educational purpose.

When college personnel receive notices from copyright owners identifying personally-owned computers on Central College networks that are illegally sharing copyrighted materials such as music and movies, IT Services will cooperate with the copyright owner by:

  • determining who owns the computer named in the complaint
  • working with the computer owner to end the illegal file-sharing activity
    • removing the offending computer from Central’s networks if other corrective actions have been ineffective

See Central’s Peer-to-Peer File Sharing for more information

Compliance with Applicable Law

As the Internet and information technologies expand in their importance to society generally, it is important that all members of the Central College community educate themselves on current College policies and Iowa and federal laws governing information technology issues.

Enforcement of Policies

Reporting: Members of the college community who believe they have witnessed or been a victim of a violation of any of the above policies should notify the Chief Information Officer, an appropriate Vice President, an immediate supervisor or the Director of Human Resources.

Response to violations: Violation will result in action by the appropriate college office or agency. Such action may include, but is not limited to: permanent or temporary suspension of user privileges, deletion of files, disconnection from the Central College network, and referral to applicable student/faculty/staff disciplinary processes that could include suspension or dismissal.

All potentially illegal activities may be reported to appropriate local, state, or federal law enforcement agencies for investigation and prosecution.

Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the Chief Information Officer, Information Technology Services (641-628-7671).


Document version date: September 3, 2005

Version history:

  • June 18, 2004: Recommended to the President’s Advisory Council for adoption by the Technology Committee
  • February and August 2005: Edits incorporated
  • November 2012: Minor edits
  • February 2013: E-mail policy update
  • June 2013: Minor edits
  • May 2015: Update links
  • October 2015: Update links and minor revisions