Computer Usage Policy

  1. Purpose

    This policy defines the general terms and conditions for access to the College's information assets and for the use of RACC computing assets, including networks, systems, and applications, by all users. The purpose of the Computer Usage Policy is to ensure an information infrastructure that promotes the Mission, Core Values, and Institutional Commitments of the College. This Policy codifies what is considered acceptable usage of the College's computer hardware, software, databases, and networks.
  2. Scope and Applicability

    This Policy applies to staff, faculty, and students who have permitted access to the RACC network and computing resources. Each user has a responsibility to be aware of and to comply with this Policy and the access granted to each user. The Information Technology Area maintains comparable policies regarding vendors, contractors, and service provider personnel.
  3. Acceptable and Unacceptable Uses of RACC computer technology

    The use of Reading Area Community College computer technology is a privilege extended to all users, including faculty, staff, and students. Computer hardware and software are to be used for approved purposes in the conduct of the College's Mission.

    Users may not utilize RACC computing resources for personal gain or commercial business.

    Access to computing and information assets is based upon responsible use, and may be subject to federal and state regulations as well as RACC policies, procedures, and regulations. Faculty and staff will be granted a unique College network ID and where appropriate, application or system IDs. Faculty and staff computer access shall be granted based on a clearly defined request that is approved by the employee's supervisor and the responsible system administrator. User access is granted to an individual and may not be transferred to or shared with another user.

    The intent of this Policy is to define broad categories of use which are acceptable, not to provide an exhaustive list of inappropriate or unacceptable uses. At any time the College may make determinations that specific uses are or are not acceptable.
    1. Acceptable uses promote an environment in which access to all College computing resources is shared equitably among computer users of the RACC community; an environment conducive to teaching and learning; an environment free of illegal or malicious acts; a non-hostile and safe work environment; and a secure computer environment
    2. Unacceptable uses include, but are not limited to:
      1. violating or attempting to violate the College's information technology security, including, but not limited to circumventing data protection schemes, gaining unauthorized access, or decrypting secure data.
      2. violating or attempting to violate license agreements, including, but not limited to, making unauthorized copies of software or data owned by or licensed to the College.
      3. using or installing any software that has not been authorized by the College.
      4. failing to abide by the policies, procedures, and regulations of the computer labs, library, classrooms, or other facilities in which computer equipment is located.
      5. creating, reproducing, or transmitting materials that are slanderous or defamatory in nature, that threaten violence, or that otherwise violate existing laws or regulations.
      6. collecting, retaining, and transmitting materials unrelated to the individual's role and responsibilities that are authorized by the individual's supervisor.
      7. transmitting sensitive or confidential information by faculty and staff unless authorized by supervisors. The transmissions will be encrypted according to RACC encryption standards.
      8. storing sensitive or confidential information by faculty and staff onto non-RACC storage devices such as personal computers, hand held devices, memory sticks and attachable storage devices not authorized or provided by the College.
      9. failing to secure all mobile computing equipment such as College laptop computers and notebook computers. Theft of such equipment represents a serious risk if they contain confidential information and a significant cost to RACC.
      10. wasting network resources including consuming large amounts of bandwidth for prolonged periods of time; consuming large quantities of College supplies for non-academic purposes; or time spent on non-academic or non-work purposes during class time or work time.
      11. creating, reproducing, or transmitting unauthorized reproductions or uses of copyrighted materials using the College's computers or web site; unauthorized duplications or uses of copyrighted software using the College's computers or website.
      12. creating, reproducing, or transmitting materials that are fraudulent, malicious, threatening, harassing, or obscene; any actions that can be interpreted as sexual harassment or that contribute to a hostile work environment.
      13. accessing the College's network, databases, or computers without authorization; failing to report a possible computer related security lapse to the College; refusing to cooperate with any computer system security investigation; or creating or intentionally distributing harmful programs such as computer viruses, worms, or Trojan horses.
      14. utilizing RACC computing resources for commercial, political, or private business purposes.
    3. Sanctions for unacceptable computer usage:
      1. Students who violate the RACC Computer Usage Policy are subject to the penalties in Article VII of the Student Bill of Rights. These include the following sanctions:
        1. Disciplinary Warning: Oral or written notice to the student that the conduct in question is in violation of the Student Code of Conduct. It also serves as a warning that future misconduct could result in a more severe disciplinary action. A disciplinary warning may be issued by a Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) Team member without the right of appeal.
        2. Disciplinary Probation: A disciplinary probation is a disciplinary warning with the added stipulation that if the student is found guilty of a violation of the Student Code of Conduct during a specified probationary period, the student's continued enrollment at the College will be in jeopardy. Disciplinary probation may include the loss of privileges, or use of specific college facilities, mandatory meetings with specified staff, and/or restitution for damages incurred. The probationary period is limited to a maximum of one year from the date of the written notification of the decision.
        3. Interim suspension: Exclusion from classes and other privileges or activities (not to exceed 5 working days) pending final determination of an alleged violation. This action will be invoked only when:
          1. the presence of the student on campus is detrimental and/or poses a threat to oneself and/or the members of the College community.
          2. when a student fails to comply with a College official's request to meet with the student for the purpose of investigating an incident. Failure to comply with this meeting request may result in a suspension from the College for the remainder of the semester. This action does not exempt the student from any course attendance policies and the student is still obligated to complete the missed coursework.
        4. Suspension: Exclusion from the College and College-sponsored activities and/or exclusion from other privileges or activities from campus for a specific period of time (up to a maximum of one year from the date of the written notification of the decision). If the student is found guilty of violating the Code of Conduct and is suspended from the College, the student is still responsible for any outstanding debt owed to the College. The student must submit a written request for consideration for readmission to the college and must comply with the reinstatement requirements
        5. Expulsion: Permanent exclusion from the College and College-sponsored activities. An expulsion sanction will remain on the student's permanent academic record.
      2. Disciplinary proceedings involving faculty alleged to have violated this Policy shall be conducted as provided for in accordance with relevant provisions of controlling law as well as the Faculty Contract. Disciplinary proceedings alleging violations of this Policy by staff shall be conducted in accordance with relevant provisions of controlling law as well as the Staff Contracts. The College may suspend the rights of access to the College's network pending the final disposition of any employee disciplinary action. Depending on the severity of the violation, employees of the College may be subject to formal personnel warnings, suspension, and even dismissal.
  4. Peer-To-Peer (P2P) File Sharing
    1. The purpose of this section of the Policy is to detail the College's plans to effectively combat the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by users of the College's computer network and information technology resources, without unduly interfering with the legitimate educational and research use of the network; and to provide for annual disclosures to students on the College's policies and sanctions related to unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, as required by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA). Additionally, this section is intended to mitigate the College's potential exposure to security risks and liabilities associated with the exploitation of P2P applications to illegally use, distribute and/or store copyrighted materials on the College's network.
    2. This section of the Policy applies to students, faculty, staff, College volunteers, and other members of the public who use the College's network and/or information technology resources.
    3. This section of the Policy also applies to the College's network and all other College information technology resources; any other information technology resource made available to the College community through a College vendor-sourced network; and other electronic device regardless of ownership when such device is actively using the College network or is otherwise interfacing with a College information technology resource. The physical location of any computer or other device is irrelevant to whether or not a violation of this Policy exists.
    4. The College is committed to preventing, in so far as practicable, the misuse of the College's computer network and other information technology resources, including but not limited to the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by users of its computer network. It is the College's intent to maintain the integrity of its computer network, without unduly interfering with educational and research use, by utilizing the methods described in this Policy. This Policy does not ban legal P2P file sharing through use of the College network, and the College will continue to support technologies that facilitate legitimate information dissemination and academic collaboration.
    5. Prohibited actions include:
      1. The installation and use of peer-to-peer file-sharing programs on computers attached to the College network.
      2. The installation or operation of any program or service which assists others in the use of P2P file-sharing programs.
    6. Enforcement and Administration
      1. RACC reserves the right to monitor the network and all attached computers to ensure compliance with this policy. The College firewall recognizes most popular forms of P2P traffic.
      2. Students will be considered in violation of this policy if their Internet traffic is identifiable as using P2P programs or protocols and subject to disciplinary actions as set out in student disciplinary procedures.
      3. The College reserves the right to block the use of any application on the College's network when it has a reasonable basis to conclude that such application is being used for improper purposes in violation of this Policy.
      4. The College will comply with all valid subpoenas seeking the identity of a person alleged to have misused the College's information technology resources for illegal purposes.
    7. Technology-based Deterrents
      1. The Director of Information Technology will utilize technology-based deterrents to combat the unauthorized distribution, downloading, uploading, streaming, scanning, storage or sharing of copyrighted material by users of the College's network, and will periodically confer with the Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs/ Provost to ensure that all such technology-based deterrents then employed by the College do not unduly interfere with legitimate educational and research uses of the College's network.
      2. At least one technology-based deterrent must be in use at all times with respect to the College Network. As determined appropriate from time to time by the Director of Information Technology, technology-based deterrents may include, but not be limited to, one or more of the following:
        1. bandwidth or traffic shaping
        2. traffic monitoring to identify abnormally high bandwidth users
        3. Internet content filtering to block or reduce illegal file sharing
        4. other commercial products designed to reduce or block illegal file sharing
      3. For the purpose of implementing this Policy, the Director of Information Technology shall have directive authority over all vendors to the College to direct that such vendors use appropriate deterrents to reduce or prevent illegal file sharing and other violations of this Policy. When exercising such directive authority, the Director shall consult with the appropriate contract administration officer of the College and ensure that all corrective actions are taken in accord with relevant contract documents.
    8. Summary of civil and criminal penalties for violation of federal copyright laws
      1. Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under Section 106 of Title 17 of the United States Code. These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement. Students, staff, and faculty who misuse computer technology resources in ways that violate the exclusive rights of copyright holders may be subject to the civil and criminal penalties listed in Section IV. H. 2. a-f. of this Policy. In addition, students who violate copyright laws and other misuses of computer technology resources are subject to the RACC disciplinary code that is included in Section III.C. 1. a- e of this Policy. Faculty and staff who violate copyright laws and other misuses of computer technology resources are subject to the RACC Employee sanctions listed in Section III.C.2. of this Policy
      2. Penalties for copyright infringement include civil and criminal penalties. A summary of the civil and criminal penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws is as follows:
        1. Infringer pays the actual dollar amount of damages and profits; or
        2. The law provides a range from $750 to $30,000 for each work infringed, unless the court finds that the infringement was willful. In such cases, the maximum penalty is increased to $150,000.
        3. The court may award attorneys' fees and court costs.
        4. The court can issue an injunction to stop the infringing acts.
        5. The court can impound the illegal works.
        6. The infringer can be sent to jail for up to 10 years.
      3. The College will make readily available to enrolled and prospective students the College's policies and sanctions related to copyright infringement including: a statement that explicitly informs its students that the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material, including peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject the student to civil and criminal liabilities; a summary of the penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws; and this Policy.
      4. Information Technology Services Department will publish and maintain a webpage devoted specifically to this Policy and P2P file sharing. Such webpage shall contain a list of FAQs and How-To Guides that instruct the campus community about appropriate and inappropriate uses of P2P applications; a summary of penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws; a summary of the results from the periodic review of the effectiveness of the College's plans to prevent the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials by users of the College's network; and a list of legal alternatives for downloading or otherwise acquiring copyrighted material.
    9. Enforcement Procedures For Handling Unauthorized P2P File Sharing

      The federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) establishes certain requirements for online service providers (OSP) such as RACC concerning copyright infringement violations including registration of an agent with the U.S. Copyright Office; development and posting of updated copyright policies; adoption of "notice and takedown" procedures for alleged copyright infringing materials; and accommodation and non-interference with standard technical measures utilized by copyright owners to identify and protect their works.
      1. Under DMCA, RACC is considered an online service provider (OSP) for its students, faculty, and staff. DMCA requires the college to expeditiously respond to complaints it receives of copyright infringements. When notified, under penalty of perjury, by a copyright owner of infringing materials on a computer attached to the university network, the college will take immediate action to block network access to the computer and notify the owner of the computer. Network access will be restored after the infringing material is removed from the computer or within 14 days after receiving a proper counter-notification, unless the copyright owner files an action seeking a court order against the computer owner. A second violation may result in an extended loss of access privileges to the college network. Additionally, as an OSP, RACC may be served with a subpoena for the identity of the owner of a computer determined to contain infringing materials. RACC will comply with the subpoena.
      2. All copyright infringement notifications will be acted upon in accordance with the requirements of the DMCA. Allegations of copyright infringements found on RACC computer resources should be sent to the RACC DMCA Agent. The Senior Vice President of Business Services for Reading Area Community College shall function as the College's DMCA agent.
      3. Alleged violations of the DMCA shall be received by the College's Agent for the Receipt of a Claimed Infringement ("Designated Agent"). The College's Agent shall document all alleged violations. IT shall respond to all DMCA notices. The receipts of such notices are to be logged in and tracked by IT. Attempts to identify the suspect computer(s) and user(s) will be made by IT staff. In the case of suspected offenders who are students, if successful identification is made, a copy of the notice and name of student(s) identified shall be referred to the Office of the Vice-President of Student Affairs. In the case of suspected faculty or staff who are successfully identified, the notice and name of the staff or faculty member(s) and relevant identifying information shall be referred to the employee's supervisor. In circumstances when criminal activity is suspected, the Director of Human Resources shall consult with legal counsel notifying any party.
  5. Implementation
    1. A full version of this Policy will be found on the College's website, through the College's Learning Management Software system (LMS), in the Student Handbook, the Employee Handbook, and the Faculty Handbook.
    2. A statement regarding this Policy will be placed in all documents related to computer usage and Internet services provided by the College.
    3. Information Technology will publish and maintain a webpage devoted specifically to this Policy and P2P file sharing. Such webpage shall contain a list of FAQs and How-To Guides that instruct the campus community about appropriate and inappropriate uses of P2P applications; a summary of penalties for violation of Federal copyright laws; a summary of the results from the periodic review of the effectiveness of the College's plans to prevent the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials by Users of the College's network; and a list of legal alternatives for downloading or otherwise acquiring copyrighted material.
    4. This Policy will be prominently displayed in every computer lab, tutoring lab, and in the library.
    5. At the beginning of each semester and session, Information Technology will send all College students, faculty and staff an email through the RACC email system regarding computer usage policies and related issues.
  6. Policy Revision Schedule
    1. The Director of Information Technology shall be responsible for the maintenance of this Policy and will recommend changes and revisions to the Academic Team and Student Affairs Area on an annual basis.
    2. In order to ensure that this Policy fulfills the requirements of the HEOA, the Campus Life Committee of the College's Governance System will review the Computer Usage Policy every year and recommend any changes or revisions to the Administration.