Human resources


Policy on Electronic Communication and Information Access

Approved July 2000
Last Updated November 2005

The electronic communication System at Muhlenberg College is to be used primarily for purposes consistent with carrying out the College's educational mission. Examples of this System include, but are not limited to, the central computing facilities, the campus-wide network, local-area networks, attached computers and printers, stored programs and data, electronic mail, newsgroups, access to the Internet, the College telephone facilities including voice mail, departmental networks, campus cctv, and the public computing facilities and related services, including Trexler Library computers. (Note: Above defines System, for subsequent use in the policy).

This policy applies to all Users of this System (including resources owned, leased by, subscribed to, or managed by Muhlenberg College), including but not limited to faculty and visiting faculty, staff, managers, students, guests of the management team, and external organizations and individuals accessing external services, such as the Internet and Library systems, via Muhlenberg's electronic communication system. (Note: Above defines User, for subsequent use in the policy).

By using this System, Users agree to the guidelines contained herein.
Electronic mail and Internet may be used for personal communication, but this may not take priority over intended business and academic uses. Priority for using this System will always be given to members of the College community. Because the College cannot guarantee the privacy of messages or documents stored on the System or transmitted through the System or through the Internet, use of the System for sending confidential or private personal information is discouraged. Users should be aware that electronic mail communications and voice mail communications can be a potential source of evidence in the process of attorney discovery in discrimination lawsuits or other litigation. (Note: Voice Mail should be treated same as e-mail).

Users of the College's System should not disclose their passwords to others. Documents or information stored in the System should not be accessed by anyone other than the author or recipient, or by the College, as stated below.

General policy requirements applicable to the use of the System are as follows:

  1. 1.  Offensive, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise inappropriate communication via the System is prohibited. (Note: Above would address use of Instant Messenger and other non-e-mail transmissions).
  2. 2.  Use of the System is subject to all legal and College prohibitions against discrimination and harassment based on age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any other basis protected by applicable federal, state or local laws.
  3. 3.   Obscene, objectionable or other offensive material, including material that may be interpreted as harassment by others, may not be viewed, downloaded, printed or transmitted via the System in public spaces.
  4. 4.   System users are liable for any action or negligence that directly or indirectly results in adverse effects upon the System or its Users. The execution of computer programs intended to gain unauthorized access to, or make unauthorized use of, the System is prohibited. Users must abide by the terms of all software licensing agreements and copyright laws. Also, Users are prohibited from downloading software onto any Library or Computer Lab computer unless given prior approval by the Director of the Office of Information Technology or the Library Director.
  5. 5.   Users of the System are obligated to respect the rights of others, the intellectual rights and the intellectual property rights of others when using these resources. Duplicating and/or distributing information, recordings, or images in violation of applicable copyright laws is not permitted.
  6. 6.   Unless granted proper authority, Users are forbidden to access, transmit or release any information or data of a confidential nature, secured through their position with the College, to a person not authorized to receive such information. Further, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) mandates that certain types of student information may not be disclosed and/or distributed to unauthorized persons. This includes information transmitted and stored on the electronic mail system. Additional information relative to the provisions of FERPA is available from the Dean of Students or the Registrar.
  7. 7.  College policy prohibits acts that are wasteful of System resources. Examples include, but are not limited to: sending or forwarding chain letters; sending mass electronic mailings not directly pertinent to College business; creating unnecessary multiple jobs or processes; excessive uploading or downloading of large files, or, creating unnecessary output or printed material.
  8. 8.   The College System may not be used for personal financial gain, inappropriate or illegal activity of any kind. Users may not download to, install upon, create links to, or otherwise place on the System any data or program which consists of any advertisements for commercial enterprises, without prior approval.
  9. 9.   The campus electronic mail system exists primarily to facilitate business communications between individuals and specific groups. To the extent that there is excessive use of "Everyone Group" messages (or similar mass mailings) to numbers of individuals who, given a choice, would choose not to receive them, the effectiveness of the System is compromised. Such messages must be restricted to campus emergencies and urgent operational messages, notification of campus meetings and events, and notification of College-sponsored events or other events off-campus, which relate to the College's educational goals. Messages such as notice of lost and found articles, promotion of political causes, and listing of personal sale items should not be sent via the campus e-mail system. The ON CAMPUS faculty/staff newsletter and the campus MESSAGE BOARD are appropriate vehicles for lost and found and for sale items.
  10. 10.   As is common in business and other organizations, it is the College's current practice that all information stored on this System, including the content of the electronic mail system and the content of the voice mail system, is normally copied daily to digital tape to provide a back-up copy in the event original records are damaged. These tapes are stored in a secure area where they are considered confidential and are retained for a period of four weeks. This means that electronic mail messages and voice mail messages deleted by an individual user subsequent to the College's daily backups may be retained for this period of time. After the four-week period the tapes are normally re-used. The College may change these and other operational practices from time to time. (Note: Voice Mail should be treated same as e-mail).

The College is the owner and administrator of this System. The College may exercise the right to access information stored on the System for business purposes such as retrieving College business-related information, troubleshooting problems, responding to complaints of misuse, and in order to comply with legal and regulatory interests. Where practical, efforts will be made to obtain express consent from the individual employee or student whose information is to be accessed. It is for these and other reasons that the College cannot guarantee the privacy of messages or documents stored on, or transmitted through the System.

Violations of these policies should be reported either to the Provost, the Dean of Students, the Vice President of Human Resources, or the Director of Campus Safety and Security. Violations could result in penalties imposed upon the User of the System. These penalties could include disabling of the User’s account(s), student suspension, student expulsion, employee suspension or termination, termination of access to the System, or liability for expenses incurred by wasteful usage (see point 4 under policy requirements).

The College maintains the right to monitor network use and discipline users, including faculty, staff members, managers and students, in accordance with human resource and electronic communication policy guidelines.

Note on Muhlenberg web pages (7/00): Under normal circumstances, links to commercial web sites that advertise and/or promote retail products are generally not allowed.

Any organization that is officially recognized by the Dean of Students' Office is eligible for its own listserv distribution list, effective Spring 2002. OIT is available for problems and issues arising with the technology, and is available to train officers to start up and maintain the list serve, but the sole responsibility for maintenance and updating information rests with the individual organizations and its officers.