Computer and Network Usage Policy


This document details the Acceptable Use and relevant Ethics which cover the proper utilization of the computers, networks and related services at Georgia Southwestern State University. This policy has been developed to foster a computing environment at GSW that furthers the academic, research and service mission of the University. Providing this environment requires equitable resource distribution, computer and network availability, personal privacy and data integrity. Achieving this goal requires that everyone in the University community cooperate and adhere to these guidelines. This policy has been developed by members of the Office of Administrative Computing in conjunction with the Administrative Council. 

Authorized Users

Individuals who have been granted and hold an active and authorized account on a GSW computer or network and abide by this policy are considered authorized users. 

Authorized Use 

Authorized use is predicated on access by an authorized user. Authorized use is that which is consistent with the academic, research and service goals of this institution and falls within the guidelines of this policy and the policy of the Board of Regents which states that property owned by the institution shall be used only for institutional purposes. Any individually owned computer or electronic device connected to the campus network is also subject to the guidelines of this policy. Placement of any network device such as servers, modems, hubs, routers, switches, cameras, etc., must be approved by the Department of Information Services prior to being connected to the network. Upon submission of the completed network registration form, Residence Hall occupants may connect one computer to the campus network for personal use only. 

Individual Rights Policy

The computing professionals at GSW are committed to preserving the privacy of each authorized user of the computer systems and give every effort to ensure that computers and electronic devices are not used to prevent this. However, it is impossible to guarantee such privacy and there are several specific issues that users must be aware of. Electronic mail messages are not secure and therefore should not be assumed to be private. Also, despite best efforts to prevent it, a determined person could gain unauthorized access to stored data and thus violate your privacy. Under the Georgia Open Records law it is possible that information which is stored on a computer system, including electronic mail, would be available for inspection by any member of the public. Finally, in the process of performing normal system/network management and auditing functions, it may be necessary to view user's files or confidential information However, system, network and application administrators are bound by both professional ethics as well as job requirements to respect the privacy of those involved and not initiate disclosure of information obtained in this manner unless it is discovered that provisions of this policy or existing state or federal laws have been violated. 

Freedom of Expression

Freedom of expression is a constitutional right afforded to all members of the community and existing University policies apply equally to computerized expression, subject to section on Authorized Use of this policy. GSW computer and network users should realize that there are services available on the Internet which may be considered offensive to some. With this in mind, users take responsibility for their own navigation of the network. 

Safety and Freedom from Harassment

While GSW cannot control harassment or unsolicited contact on the network, those who believe they have been harassed should follow standard University procedures and bring such violations to the attention of the Public Safety Department. 

Individual Responsibilities

Users of GSW computer equipment are expected to understand this policy and abide by it. This policy is widely distributed and easily accessible, so lack of knowledge of this policy is not an excuse for failure to observe it. Questions regarding this policy can be directed to the Office of Administrative Computing, Human Resources, or the Office of Student Life. Disregard for this policy may result in disciplinary actions as set forth in Section on Sanctions in this policy. 

Morals and Ethics

Users are expected to respect the right to privacy of other individuals on the network. Do not go browsing around in someone's files even if security permissions permit. This is analogous to condoning someone rifling around on your desk or in your house simply because you forgot to lock your door. It is expected that explicit permission from the owner of the files is obtained before they are accessed. Users are expected to respect the right of freedom of expression of other individuals on the network. 

Expected Behaviors

This section details some guidelines relating to computer based activities. GSW computer users are expected to read sign on messages and the University Web Page for specific information such as system changes, policies and scheduled downtime. System and network administrators may find it necessary to contact you regarding policy issues. If repeated attempts to contact an individual are unsuccessful, the system or network administrator may be forced to temporarily deactivate the account simply to compel the owner to make return contact. 

User ids and Passwords

It is a violation of policy to use a computer user id (or any computer resource) that is not assigned to you or to share user id and passwords with other individuals (including something personnel). A computer user id is granted to an individual and that individual is responsible for any use of that account. If you knowingly share your user id and password with someone else and this policy is violated, you will also be subject of the sanctions outlined in the Section on Sanctions in this policy. If file sharing with others is necessary, there are methods and techniques to accomplish this without sharing your user id and password. Users should follow guidelines for password selection which includes choosing a password that is not found in a dictionary, changing it often, and verifying the last logon time. Remember that your password is the first line of defense against unauthorized access to your account. 

Providing Services

Users are not permitted to provide network or computer-based services using GSW computers or networks either by way of direct network connection or by way of modern access without prior permission from the department responsible for the computers or networks in question. Examples of such services include, but are not limited to Telnet, FTP, WEB services, and E-mail servers, via the campus network to GSW computers. 

Unauthorized Access

You must not attempt to guess or break another user's password. Attempts to gain access to GSW computers and networks to which you are not authorized is prohibited. You may not use GSW facilities to login or attempt to login to computers external to GSW to which you are not authorized. If you suspect that your account has been compromised, you should contact the administrator in the department which is responsible for the computer or network in question. 

Unauthorized monitoring

Users are not permitted to use computers and networks to monitor or attempt to monitor electronic transmissions. 

Disruption of Service

Deliberate attempts to disrupt the operation or degrade the performance of computers or networks are prohibited. 

Distribution of Resources

Do not circumvent or attempt to circumvent any policies or procedures that have been established to ensure equitable resource distribution in our shared computing environment. For example, you must not deliberately circumvent the modem inactivity timer. 

Mass Electronic Mailings

University -wide electronic mailings are not permitted without prior permission from the Office of Administrative Computing due to the heavy use of resources this requires. In general, there are better and more efficient ways to make information globally available. 

Game Playing

The policy regarding game playing on GSW computers and networks is established by the department responsible for the computers and networks in question. However, no department should permit game playing to interfere with normal University business. 

Business Use

There is to be no use of GSW computers or networks for non-GSW business purposes or non-GSW related employment. 

Use of Copyrighted or Licensed Materials

There shall be no copying or installation of software on GSW computers if such copying or installation would violate any copyright or licensing agreement. You may be asked to show a valid license agreement to ensure the legal use of software on GSW computers. Contact the department head responsible for the specific computer if you have any questions regarding licensing issues. 


Violators of this policy may be subject to one or more of the following sanctions which can be imposed by the department responsible for the computers and networks on which the violation occurred: 


2. Temporary or permanent suspension of computer privileges 

3. Temporary or permanent suspension of lab privileges 

Additional sanctions, such as University suspension and employee action, may also apply as outlined in the Weathervane and the Classified Employee Handbook. Legal action can also be taken as per Section on Legal Restraints. Appeals to these sanctions are explained in the Section on Appeals. 

Legal Restraints

Users of GSW computing facilities are expected to abide by State and Federal laws that apply to the usage of computers. These laws exist to "establish certain acts involving computer fraud or abuse as crimes punishable by defined fines or imprisonment or both". 

As an example, the Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act was enacted in 1991 to "provide for criminal liability and the definition of penalties for the crimes of computer theft, computer trespass, computer invasion of privacy, computer forgery, and computer password disclosure". The penalties range from fines up to $50,000 and imprisonment up to 15 years. The full text of this act is available on the World Wide Web. 


Appeals to sanctions should be handled through the existing University grievance and appeals policy for both employees and students. 

Selection, Installation and Support of Computer Software and Hardware

The following outlines the University's policy for selection, installation and support of university-owned computer systems. 


When software or hardware is to be purchased, current standards for supported computer systems may be obtained from Administrative Computing by contacting the Operations Manager or sending an electronic mail request to The Administrative computing staff can assist in selection of items that are compatible with existing equipment and the campus network, and assure that proper software licenses are maintained. 


The staff in the Office of Administrative Computing is responsible for installing licensed software on campus computer systems and for providing technical support for licensed software in consultation with vendors. However, they cannot be responsible for support of unlicensed software or improperly installed software. They also cannot always correct a problem with licenses software that was created by improper installation of software. 


The staff in the Office of Administrative Computing will install computer hardware as well as support and maintain that hardware in consultation with vendors. The staff is not responsible for installation or performance of hardware that is not compatible with existing equipment and network. 


The staff in the Office of Administrative Computing is committed to providing installation of hardware and software at the earliest possible date after delivery of equipment or software. Thus, it should not be necessary for anyone other than staff in the Office of Administrative Computing to provide installations. The staff may not be able to provide proper support for a computer system if equipment or software is installed by persons other than staff in the Office of Administrative Computing. 

Adding Devices and Applications to the Campus Network

If a person or department wishes to add any network-based application or device, i.e., computer, printer, server, etc., to the campus network, the proposal should be reviewed by the Network Administrator, preferably during the planning stage, for the purpose of assessing the impact of the application or device on the resources of the network, as any networked application or networked device affects the performance to some degree of all applications and devices which depend upon the network.