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Student Computer Use Policy

General

Nicholls State University has a specific policy that governs the use and abuse of the university’s resources.  Students granted access to the university’s computing facilities are required to abide by the established policy for computer use. 

The Computer Use Policy is a comprehensive policy dealing with aspects of computer abuse, whether physical or logical.  It applies to all university computing facilities mainframes, minicomputers, microcomputers, and associated equipment and links, as well as software, whether developed by Nicholls or purchased.  If abuse, actual or threatened, is suspected or detected, the matter will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency or university or authority for disciplinary action.  Confirmed abuse can result in criminal prosecution, dismissal, loss of computer use privilege and other such remedies as provided by established laws and policies of the university.

In general, abuse is defined as any improper use or treatment of computing facilities including, but not limited to, acts which, by mischief or gross negligence, result in physical damage, defacement, or destruction of computing equipment; theft; unauthorized access or use; unauthorized alteration, substitution, or deletion of programs, command files, data files, documentation, or other material; wiretapping or any form of unauthorized signal interception; divulgence of confidential information or computer access methods to unauthorized persons; copyright or patent infringement; transmitting statements which are obscene or libelous according to law through or with computer systems; failure to safeguard computer systems in both their physical and logical aspects; and failure to notify management or security personnel of instances of abuse, either actual or threatened, or conspiracy to commit any of the above. 

Terminology

  • User — Any employee, student, or other individual to whom computer access is granted.
  • Computer equipment — Computer processors, memory, peripheral devices, communication links, communication equipment, supply lines, storage media, or any terminals, printers, modems, or any other ancillary equipment or devices connected to or in any way used in conjunction with the mainframes, minicomputers, microcomputers and word processing units owned, leased and/or operated by Nicholls State University.  This is extended to include analog as well as digital devices.
  • Software — Computer source and binary programs or modules, including intermediate or universal code, whether for system or applications use, command files, menu formats, and on-line manuals used with “help” facilities.  This is extended to include firmware.
  • Computer Facilities — Computer equipment and software, as defined above, considered as an entity.

Physical Damage

Acts which, by mischief or negligence, result in damage to, defacement of, or destruction to computer equipment maintained by Nicholls State University.

Theft

The unauthorized use or taking for one’s own personal use of computer equipment or software.

Software Copyright Restrictions

  • The use of computing equipment or communication facilities to make unauthorized or illegal copies of proprietary software or in any way to infringe upon copyrighted or patented material of any nature.
  • NOTICE: WARNING OF COPYRIGHT RESTRICTIONS.  The Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, US Code) governs the reproduction, distribution, adaptation, public performance, and public display of copyrighted material.
  • Under certain conditions specified by the law, nonprofit libraries are authorized to lend, lease, or rent copies of computer programs to students on a nonprofit basis and for nonprofit purposes.  Any person who makes an unauthorized copy or adaptation of the computer program, of redistributes the loan copy, or uses the loan copy for monetary gain, or publicly performs or displays the computer program, except as permitted by Title 17 of the US Code, may be liable for copyright infringement.

Software Tampering

Unauthorized alteration, substitution, or deletion of programs, command files, data files, documentation, or other material is illegal.  This shall include the use of Trojan horses, spoofs, computer viruses (as defined in the common literature), or any other device, material, logical or physical, to obtain these ends. This also includes the use of computer facilities to gain unauthorized access to systems external to Nicholls and use of command files to add to, delete or modify any education record as defined by the FERPA.

Negligence

By design or neglect allowing computer logos, passwords, encryption keys, or any other access methods to be obtained by unauthorized entities is illegal. This includes failure to safeguard computer equipment in both their physical and logical aspects from abuse. Further, this includes the failure to notify management or security personnel of instances of abuse either actual or threatened.

Unauthorized Use of Data

Using sensitive or confidential information with which one is entrusted for personal gain or interest; dissemination of such information, or by design or neglect allowing unauthorized access to or use of such information.

Improper Use

Using the electronic mail or other communication facilities to transmit statements of an obscene, libelous, or threatening nature as defined under current judicial definitions.

Use, Rights, Privileges

The University’s computing facilities are provided for the use of students in pursuing the ends of academic endeavors.  By keeping in good standing with the University, a student will be allowed computing privileges.  These privileges entail certain rights to privacy and security.

Responsibilities

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that his/her account password is kept confidential. If abuse or threatening messages occur due to allowing other students to access the account, the student who owns the account will be held accountable. Students are charged with special responsibilities for safeguarding the facilities with which they are entrusted. Failure to adequately and conscientiously safeguard these facilities from misuse will subject a student to being denied access to and use of the facilities. Furthermore, any damage to or infringement of copyrighted material or confidential data resulting from negligence may additionally subject the student to disciplinary action commensurate with the loss including dismissal or legal prosecution in accordance with University policies and local, state and federal laws.

Physical Damage, Abuse, Theft, and Logical Abuse

Acts of physical damage, abuse, and threats of such abuse will be handled in accordance with previously established procedures including criminal or civil prosecution and discipline under the University Code of Student Conduct, where applicable. Logical abuse, such as copyright infringement, software piracy, alteration of accounting, academic, and other databases for personal gain or mischief, plagiarizing, gaining or permitting unauthorized access, and the like will be handled in accordance with applicable criminal, civil, or university procedures.

Acts of abuse which constitute a violation of local, state, or federal criminal or civil statutes will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agencies. Nicholls State University, at its discretion, will pursue whatever legal and University avenues it deems necessary for achieving reparations.

Academic Dishonesty

Using the computer to gain unauthorized access to instructional material for personal gain or profit, or to gain unauthorized access to another student’s assignments, or for the purpose of sharing work in an unauthorized manner will be considered a violation of the University’s Code of Student Conduct. In addition to the sanctions provided under that policy, a student may also be denied access to computing facilities and be subject to other legal or academic discipline as appropriate.

Copyright Infringements

All students should recognize that information obtained through electronic methods may be protected by copyright laws of the United States (Title 17 U.S. Code), the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (H.R. 2281), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).  As such, any student in violation may be prosecuted under the terms of the law.  It is the student’s responsibility to understand the laws pertaining to copyright infringement.  A guide of how the law affects a student will be made available in the Library and in the Office of Academic Affairs.

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