5.08 Acceptable Use of College Computer Systems

Effective Date: September 1, 2013 (revised)


Trinity College’s voice, data and video communication networks, including all hardware and software, are the property of Trinity College. They are for the use of students, faculty, and staff, and are to be used only for the academic, educational and research purposes of the College. Acceptable usage and expectations of privacy are detailed in this policy for College faculty and staff. For students, these topics are addressed in the student handbook.


Accounts provided for accessing the network, e-mail, the Web, the Library, and other shared systems are provided expressly for an individual employee’s personal use only, and are not to be used by anyone else, including family members. Giving access to an account to anyone off campus, as with any misuse of the systems, may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

Passwords and Privacy Issues

System users must understand that Trinity College expressly reserves the right to conduct reviews of all aspects of the systems’ uses, for example, e-mail messages, including those sent or received on personal, web-based e-mail accounts (e.g. Gmail). Therefore, users should be aware that their use of the systems and the contents of communications, such as e-mails sent, received and stored on the system, can be reviewed by Trinity College. The College can do so despite the assignment to individual users of passwords for systems security. The passwords are designed to provide systems security from unauthorized users, not to provide privacy to the individual systems user.

The systems’ security aspects, such as the message delete function for e-mail and the user’s personal password can be bypassed for review purposes. Trinity College’s ability to review system use and any stored messages at any time is not restricted or neutralized by these mechanisms. Please note, however, that the College will not conduct such reviews unless an authorized administrator has approved them in light of circumstances that demonstrate review of system use in an appropriate action in Trinity College’s determination. It is also important to note that technical staff from Information Technology Services (ITS) may encounter user information on networks, servers or computers in the course of performing their duties. Furthermore, systems users must recognize that there is no guarantee of privacy in the use of the Internet.

Finally, in light of federal and state laws, the provisions of which may require Trinity College to cooperate with federal or state investigations, the College may be compelled to respond to subpoenas or search warrants from federal or state authorities seeking access to employees’ electronic communications. Therefore, all systems users must be aware that they should not have any expectation of personal privacy in the use of these systems. By using the College’s systems, the user expressly consents to Trinity College monitoring, auditing, reviewing, retrieving or otherwise tracking the systems usage, including the content of electronic communications.

Anonymity and Responsibility

It is technically possible to generate network messages (via e-mail, newsgroups, web forms, web mail links, etc.) with ambiguous identification of the sender. Because of the relatively impersonal nature of the interaction, opportunities exist for misuse. Therefore, acceptable use of all networked systems requires the accurate and unambiguous identification of the source of all sent messages.

Applicability of Existing Codes of Conduct

Computer and network use on campus are guided by the same principles, and subject to the same disciplinary sanctions (and appeals processes), as are other campus activities. All the rules and regulations of the College, including any disciplinary action specified, extend to all areas of computer use, both academic and non-academic. Common sense, common courtesy, and consideration of the implications of one’s actions within the context of our academic community are essential, and extend the scope of this policy beyond any listing of specific prohibitions. Understanding this is part of an employee’s responsibilities.

A few analogies may serve to clarify how these principles apply to the new media:

Network Use Guidelines

While the general principles discussed above provide guidance for virtually all activities on the College’s computer, voice, and video networks, the newness and phenomenal growth of telecommunications systems and services warrants additional attention.

In addition to the applicability of existing policies and procedures to the use of Trinity College computer systems, including the Social Media policy applicable to staff and faculty, all system use should be consistent with the purposes outlined above, and uses must also follow certain network use guidelines as follows:

Use of External Networks

Computers on the Trinity campus have access to regional and national computer networks. These networks, accessible vis the Internet, have their own use policies. It is the responsibility of the user to know and adhere to these regulations. Ignorance of the rules is not an acceptable defense.

Complaints of Problems or Misuse

Anyone who is aware of problems with, or misuse of, the systems should report this. Most importantly, Trinity College urges any systems user who receives any harassing, threatening or intimidating e-mail message(s) or other electronic communication, or becomes aware of activity on the systems which may be illegal, to report this immediately. It is Trinity Colleges policy that no one should be required to tolerate such treatment or activity, regardless of the identity of the sender of the message or the origin of the activity. This is particularly important in sexual, racial or similar harassment situations. Any such event should immediately be reported to appropriate personnel, as outlined in the Discrimination and Harassment Policy. The report will be maintained as confidential to the greatest extent possible, while recognizing the need to investigate such reports thoroughly.

See the following policies for additional relevant information:

3.03 Discrimination and Harassment 25

5.01 Confidentiality 94