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Appropriate Use Policy for Information Technology

Amarillo College reserves the right to amend or otherwise revise this document as may be necessary to reflect future changes made to the Information Technology (IT) environment. You are responsible for reviewing this Policy periodically to ensure your continued compliance with all Amarillo College IT guidelines. In accepting a user account, the user agrees to this policy.

This document has been reviewed and endorsed by the Information Technology Committee and its members, while enacted and enforced by the Dean of Information Technology Services/Chief Information Officer and the staff of Information Technology Services.

 

PART I: INTRODUCTION

Guiding principles

This document establishes general guidelines that apply to all users of Information Technology resources owned or managed by Amarillo College, including but not limited to AC students, faculty, staff, external individuals (such as AC contractors) or organizations and individuals accessing external network services, such as the Internet, via AC's Information Technology facilities.

The policies described in this document apply to all information technology owned or managed by Amarillo College and represent the minimum appropriate use policies for IT. Individual departments may have additional (and more restrictive) policies regarding IT resources held in those departments. Users should contact the specific departments for questions about each department's specific Acceptable Use Policy.

These policies and guidelines have been designed with two guiding principles in mind:


Examples of primary uses:

  1. Academic Freedom: Amarillo College endorses and honors the "1940 Statement of Principles and 1970 Interpretive Comments on Academic Freedom and Tenure." Please refer to Academic Freedom in the Faculty Handbook and Academic Freedom for Students in the AC Catalog for more details.
  2. Primary and Secondary Use: Information Technology resources are provided to support and enhance the mission of Amarillo College. Amarillo College encourages the use of information technology resources for this primary activity and supports such activity to the extent that resources permit. Other activities are considered to be secondary. As such they are not necessarily prohibited or even discouraged. However should such secondary activities in any way interfere with primary activities, they may be terminated, whether or not such activities are explicitly detailed in the information technology policy statements.

    Examples of primary uses:
    1. Communication with others in support of teaching, scholarly, service, and administrative activities (professional email and associated applications, web page management, social networking applications, etc.)
    2. Completion of coursework and course management activities
    3. Preparation of academic papers and projects and conducting scholarly activities
    4. Completion of job responsibilities
    1. Non-academic activities such as personal electronic mail (email), web page creation, and/or web browsing
    2. Individual Rights: Amarillo College respects and promotes individual rights to privacy, equitable and fair access to resources, intellectual property, real property, and civil rights. Activities which threaten these rights are prohibited and may be terminated, whether or not such activities are explicitly detailed in the information technology policy statements.
    3. Information Technology Resources at Amarillo College: Information Technology at Amarillo College encompasses the use of all campus computing, telecommunications, electronic educational media, and management information systems technologies. These IT resources support the instructional, research, and administrative activities of the College. Examples of these resources include, but are not limited to, the central administrative, academic and library computing facilities; the campus-wide data, video and voice networks; electronic mail; video conferencing systems; access to the Internet; voice mail; the College switchboard; fax machines; classroom audio-video; departmental and general use computing facilities and related services.
    4. Appropriate Use of IT Resources: Amarillo College campus computing facilities and network are provided as a service to students, faculty, staff, administration, and other members of the College community to support the mission of the College. The College strives to provide fair and distributed access to computing and network facilities for a large number of users. Proper use follows the same standards of common sense, courtesy, and restraint in the consumption of shared resources that govern the use of other campus facilities. Improper use violates those standards by preventing others from accessing shared facilities.

PART II: GUIDELINES FOR APPROPRIATE AC IT USE

 

The following list, while not exhaustive, provides some specific guidelines for appropriate IT use:

  1. Authorization: Use only the Information Technology facilities for which you have specific authorization. Do not use another individual's ACNetID or account, or attempt to capture other users' passwords. Users are individually responsible for all use of resources assigned to them; therefore, sharing of ACNet accounts is prohibited.
  2. Facilities: Observe established guidelines for any information technology facilities used both inside and outside the College. For example, individuals using AC's computer resource centers must adhere to the policies established for those centers; individuals accessing off-campus computers via external networks must abide by the policies established by the owners of those systems as well as policies governing use of those networks. Contact the Technology Information Center for more information about specific departmental IT policies.
  3. Alter, Delete or Destroy: Do not attempt to inappropriately alter, delete or destroy any hardware or software on any AC IT system. This constitutes a violation of appropriate use of IT facilities no matter how weak the protection is on those products.
  4. Plagiarism: Because electronic information is volatile and easily reproduced, respect for the work and personal expression of others is especially critical in computer environments. Violations of authorial integrity, including plagiarism, invasion of privacy, unauthorized access and trade secret and copyright violations, may be grounds for sanctions against members of the academic community.
  5. Illegal Downloading: The official Amarillo College position on peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing utilities (e.g., KaZaa, iMesh, Gnutella, BitTorrent, etc.) is that the software itself is not illegal, nor banned by Amarillo College. It is illegal, however, to download or share copyrighted material for which you do not hold the copyright. While Amarillo College does not explicitly track the downloading of files, in the event the College receives notification of illegal downloading activity, appropriate investigation and disciplinary action to address the violator will be taken. Amarillo College does not have a copyright policy per se, however the guidelines set forth in the University of Texas System policy is used as the operational guidelines at http://www.utsystem.edu/OGC/IntellectualProperty/copypol2.htm .
  6. Appropriate Standards: Use appropriate standards of civility and common sense when using IT systems to communicate with other individuals. Do not use email to transmit confidential information relative to personnel matters, internal investigations and litigation. When sending personal messages to other users, participating in a chat room discussion, posting on bulletin boards or leaving a voice mail message, identify yourself as the sender. Using AC's IT resources to harass, threaten, slur, embarrass, libel, slander, or demean other individuals is explicitly prohibited.
  7. Volume Usage: Moderate use of public IT resources. Amarillo College has a large and growing body of faculty, staff and students, all of whom need access to IT resources. There may be times when these resources are in high demand, and as such, you should limit use of public IT resources to primary purposes only.

PART III: USERS' RIGHTS

A. Access to Information Technology (IT) Resources

Central IT Resources
Students, faculty, administrators, staff and recognized student organizations may obtain IDs for use with the central IT activities related to instruction, research or College administration.

In the event that any student, faculty, administrator or staff person leaves, resigns or in any way concludes his or her relationship with Amarillo College for whatever reason:

  1. Access to all IT resources, including voice mail and email services, will be terminated within 90 days or immediately (if requested by the appropriate parties).
  2. All electronic storage will be deleted.
  3. Faculty and staff may be able to arrange to have subsequent electronic communications forwarded to an off campus account for a limited time.

Other IT Resources
Most of Amarillo College's IT facilities and services—such as the computer-equipped classrooms, video conferencing rooms, consulting services, voice mail, and training—are available only to members of the College community and authorized guests. Information Technology Services is responsible for planning and budgeting for central IT services. For more detailed information about access to any facility or service, visit the ITS home page at http://www.actx.edu/its/, email helpdesk-it@actx.edu, phone the Technology Information Center at (806) 371-5100, or visit the Technology Information Center on the Washington Street Campus (Russell Hall, room 121) or the Information Technology Services at the West Campus (Building B, room 120).

Departmental IT Resources
For information concerning access to departmental IT resources, contact the appropriate department chair.

Remote Access to IT Resources
Amarillo College does not provide modem pool and/or remote access dial-in capabilities, however most resources are accessible through the commercial Internet, the AC website, and myAC.

B. Data Security and Integrity

ITS Maintained Equipment
ITS provides reasonable security against intrusion and damage to files stored on the central IT facilities. Neither the College nor any IT staff member can guarantee protection against media failure, fire, floods, etc. Neither can ITS guarantee protection from unauthorized access of personal data on College IT facilities. Users should use all available methods to protect their files, including the frequent changing of their passwords and storing back-up copies of information off site. In the event that data have been corrupted as a result of intrusion, ITS should be notified immediately. Every reasonable attempt will be made to restore files to their status prior to intrusion; however, ITS cannot guarantee restoration.

Department IT Equipment
Upon request, the IT staff will assist in implementing procedures to maximize individual user security. Although ITS backs up some departmental servers at departmental requests and makes reasonable attempts to protect those servers from intrusion, it does not provide the same level of protection or offer restoration of files stored on all departmental servers. Therefore, it is especially important that each department has a back-up strategy and security plan for their IT resources. ITS will consult on those plans upon request.

College Bandwidth Management
Information Technology Services reserves the right to manage the College’s voice, data and video bandwidth allocation based on criteria for bandwidth management involving the integrity and robustness of College owned equipment, data, and services as well as the appropriateness of bandwidth use when compared to the College’s academic goals, administrative missions, and appropriate use policy for information technology.

C. Privacy

Access by IT Staff on Behalf of the College
The College respects the privacy of all users. Members of the ITS organization are forbidden to log on to another user’s account or to access a user's files unless the user gives explicit permission (for example, by setting file access privileges). Exceptions to this privacy policy are made, however, under specific conditions. Such conditions include investigation of computer programs suspected of causing disruption to the network or other shared services; investigation of suspected violations of state or federal law or College policies; and investigations to avoid liability or in connection with internal hearings or litigation. In these instances, the Dean of Information Technology Services/Chief Information Officer (CIO), upon consultation with College Administration and/or Counsel, must be convinced that there is sufficient cause to review files before those files can be searched without the user's permission. Before logging onto a user's account or accessing a user's private files, a reasonable attempt will be made to contact the user to inform him or her that ITS will access the files. If that is not possible, the CIO will view the files for the suspected violation and will inform the user afterward that the files have been reviewed. The CIO will retain a fully documented report of the violation and the process of searching these suspected files. Information obtained in this manner is admissible in legal proceedings or in a College hearing.

Access by Administrators of Departmental IT Systems
Individual departments must have guidelines consistent with College policy, state and federal laws which deal with access issues of their IT resources.

Users should not expect privacy of any electronic communications
IT systems’ administrators may see the contents of electronic communications due to serious addressing errors or as a result of maintaining the communications system. In those cases where administrators do see the contents of private electronic communications, they are required to keep the contents confidential. Users should be aware that the current design of the networks is such that the privacy of electronic communications cannot be guaranteed.

D. Ownership of Copyright for Materials Developed with AC's Resources

Amarillo College has established guidelines related to ownership of copyright property. The exact policies and procedures relating to copyrights may be obtained from the AC Library or online from Section DBD of the Board Policy Manual.

E. Responsibility for Errors in Software, Hardware, and Consulting

Information Technology Services in conjunction with department points of contact makes its best effort to maintain an error free IT environment for users and to ensure that the IT staff is properly trained. Nevertheless, it is impossible to ensure that IT system errors will not occur or that IT staff will always give correct advice. Amarillo College presents no warranty, either expressly stated or implied, for the services provided. Damages resulting directly and indirectly form the use of campus resources are the responsibility of the user. However, at the request of the user, when errors are determined to have occurred on IT facilities, members of the IT staff will make a reasonable attempt to restore lost information to its state prior to the failure, at no cost to the user. As part of maintaining the IT environment, the IT staff applies vendor-supplied or locally developed fixes as appropriate when problems are identified. Given that vendors may be involved and that staff resources are finite, no guarantee can be made as to how long it may take to fix an error once it has been identified.

When software errors are considered major problems or could produce inaccurate results, users will be notified as soon as possible using appropriate electronic and/or other media.

F. Changes in the AC IT Environment

When significant changes in hardware, software or procedures are planned, Information Technology Services will notify the affected departments/business units. The affected departments/business units will then notify their departmental user community through email and other media to ensure that all users have enough time to prepare for the changes and to voice any concerns that they might have.

G. Comments, Suggestions, Corrections, etc.

Questions concerning this or any other Information Technology Policy can be directed to Information Technology Services at its@actx.edu.

H. Revision History

  • Final policy approved by Amarillo College’s Information Technology Council on April 22, 2010.
  • Interim policy approved by Amarillo College’s Information Technology Council on October 23, 2009.
  • Original policy created by Amarillo College’s Information Technology Council on September 21, 2009.


 

Last updated: 4/22/2010

This is a publication of Information Technology Services. For further assistance please contact the Technology Information Center (806) 371-5100, or email helpdesk-it@actx.edu.


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