Acceptable Use Policy: Public Access Facilities and E-Mail

Introduction

Computer, networking and electronic mail facilities and services are offered by the Office of Information Technology (IT) in support of the teaching and learning, research and public service functions of the College. Access to the computer systems and networks owned and operated by SUNY Optometry is a privilege, not a right, and imposes certain responsibilities for appropriate use, in accordance with College policy.  Users should recognize that the primary intention of providing network service is to support the educational mission of the College and the conduct of its daily business.

In general, appropriate use means respecting the rights of other computer users; the integrity of the physical facilities; all pertinent license, copyright and contractual agreements; as well as local, state and federal laws.

Responsible Use

Users are expected to use SUNY Optometry computer, electronic mail, and network services in a legal, effective, ethical, responsible and efficient manner, consistent with the instructional, research, public service and administrative goals of the College.

Obtaining an E-Mail Account

In order to use electronic mail (e-mail) at SUNY Optometry it is necessary to have an e-mail "account" or user code which is unique for each user. This establishes the electronic address for each e-mail user to which electronic mail can be received from other e-mail users on- or off-campus. Each e-mail account is protected from unauthorized access, in part, by requiring the use of a unique password to identify the legitimate user.  Users are responsible for protecting the security of their own passwords.  Please see the Guidelines for Password Protection for responsible handling of passwords and account information.

Any student, faculty or staff member of SUNY Optometry may request an e-mail account.  Request forms are available at the Library Circulation Desk and should be submitted to the Office of Information Technology on the third floor. Adjunct faculty requires the sponsorship of their Department Chair and the approval of the Dean to obtain an account.  The primary intention of providing e-mail service is to support the educational mission of the College and the conduct of its daily business.  Commercial use is not permitted.

An e-mail account is a privilege, not a right, and the establishment of an account does not grant or guarantee unlimited or unrestricted opportunities to send and receive e-mail.  E-Mail cannot be guaranteed at all times and in all circumstances.  In particular, there is no guarantee of round-the-clock, seven day a week (24x7) access.

Standard E-Mail Format

All accounts are created according to the standard format jsmith@sunyopt.edu, where j is the first initial of the first name, and smith is the first seven letters of the last name, for a maximum number of eight letters in the user name.  In the case of individuals with common names where this approach might duplicate an existing account name (e.g. jlee), the Postmaster will create unique user account names through the use of letter/number combinations (e.g. j2lee).

This is the standard SUNY Optometry mail format and we regret that we cannot accommodate exceptions.
(Selected individuals who requested non-standard accounts (e.g. js@sunyopt.edu; smith@sunyopt.edu) prior to the establishment of this policy also hold accounts in the standard format.  The non-standard format is actually a mail nickname (or alias) of the standard User ID.  These individuals are strongly advised to use the standard account format, inform their electronic mail contacts of that address, and phase out use of the mail nickname.  Mail "aliases" or nicknames require special handling during software upgrades and are time-consuming to administer.  Consequently, IT cannot guarantee the reliability of mail delivery to and from mail aliases indefinitely.)
 

User E-Mail Responsibilities

Our electronic mail system is a finite resource that is intended to facilitate and support our mission as an institution of higher education.  Because there are so many individuals who rely on this shared resource, respect for the rights and needs of others is central to this policy.

Responsible Use

Users are asked to cultivate habits of responsible use:

  • Deleting unneeded messages regularly
  • Downloading attachments promptly and deleting accompanying messages
  • Disconnecting from the mail server when not actively reading or sending mail
  • Making use of conference folders to send messages to large groups, rather than individual mailing lists
  • Respond only to the individual you are trying to reach, not to the entire list
  • Backing up personal address lists
  • Maintain backups of important messages on floppy disk, paper, USB flash drives or other media.

Inappropriate Practices

Users will refrain from any action which interferes with the system, such as:

  • Sending file attachments over 20 MB in size
  • Sending excessive or unsolicited e-mail or messages (such as chain letters, jokes or advertisements) locally or over the network to large numbers of individuals
  • Knowingly acting in a manner that will disrupt normal operations or the network

Privacy of E-Mail

It is impossible to ensure the confidentiality of any electronic messages stored or communicated through our computing facilities. As pointed out by other universities, "The privacy of electronic mail is somewhere between that of a letter and a postcard."  Further, although every effort is made to deliver messages as specified by the sender, delivery to on-campus e-mail addresses is not guaranteed, and there can be no assurance that the recipient actually examined a particular message.  In these respects, electronic mail is no different from interoffice mail.  While confidentiality cannot be ensured, e-mail is not to be read by SUNY Optometry staff or any others with sufficient computer system privileges to do so, except as noted under Postmaster responsibilities for electronic mail.

Some information about personal mail use is not confidential because of the way computer systems operate.  Depending on how a person uses e-mail, the following information can be seen by other people:

  • The fact that someone is running a mail application
  • The date and time the mail was last read (the history function)

Moreover, there are no assurances about the handling of e-mail received from or sent to addresses outside the College. Organizations managing e-mail systems elsewhere on the Internet may or may not have similar policies to those described here.  Many are known to consider e-mail the property of the organization, subject to examination.  Be aware of this possibility when you correspond with those elsewhere on the Internet.

Lastly, realize that a message you send to someone may easily be forwarded to many other individuals, whether or not you had intended it for broad distribution.  Consequently, it is recommended that you never put something in an e-mail message that you would feel uncomfortable seeing on a public bulletin board in your department.

Usenet Newsgroups

The College provides access to selected Usenet (user's network) newsgroups as a service to the College community.  Usenet is a collection of computers from all over the Internet that receive network newsgroup postings and provide entry to those who want to access the information. Newsgroups on the College e-mail server may include such topics as sci.med.vision. Individuals wishing to propose additional newsgroups to be made available through the campus system should send their suggestions to the Postmaster.

Please realize that newsgroup articles are not under the control of the Postmaster or the College, that articles in most cases are authored by outside individuals, and that none of the contents of a newsgroup available through our system is monitored by IT staff in any way.

Obtaining a Network User Account

To use the SUNY College of Optometry public access computers, it is necessary to have an account which is unique for each user. An account provides access to a MS Windows 7 desktop with MS Office, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, e-mail, plus private storage space on a server (the "H:" drive) where you can keep your documents.  You can just walk up to any of the workstations, enter your User ID and password and your files will be available at any workstation, similar to the current handling of electronic mail files.

Each account is protected from unauthorized access, in part, by requiring the use of a unique password to identify the legitimate user.  Users are responsible for protecting the security of their own accounts and passwords, and are responsible for all usage on their assigned account.  Please see the Guidelines for Password Protection for responsible handling of passwords and account information.

Standard Format

All user accounts are created according to the standard format user1234, with the numbers indicating your unique user account name.

Public Access Computer Area Policies

Currently, all public access computers are located in the Kohn Library, and are administered by the Office of Information Technology in consultation with the Library. Although the Library is open for reference and reading use by the general public, public access computers are restricted to use by members of the College community and special guests.

Individuals making use of the public access computer facilities and thin client workstations are expected to attend to the following policy issues:

Changes to Public Access Workstations

  • Users are prohibited from installing or using unauthorized software (including games, screensavers, plug-ins and communication software), or changing default parameters on the installed software base of public access computers
  • Users are prohibited from deleting icons or programs from public access machines.

Inappropriate Practices

Users will refrain from engaging in such inappropriate practices as:

  • Unnecessary printing or printing multiple copies of files
  • Printing extremely graphics-heavy web pages
  • Unnecessarily tying up public access workstations for long periods of time when others are waiting for these resources
  • Using computing resources to engage in conduct which interferes with others' use of shared computer resources and/or the activities of other users
  • Using the network for commercial or profit-making purposes
  • Knowingly acting in a manner that will disrupt normal operations or the network
  • Disruptive e-mail behaviors (as noted previously)
  • In particular, game playing is not permitted.

Priorities

  • Use of computer facilities (including web and e-mail use) for scholarly communication, academic work, and research takes precedence over other uses
  • Those using computer facilities for other than scholarly communication, academic work or research will surrender their seats to others upon request.

Other Printing Guidelines

  • Due to the high volume of use, by-pass printing, or the use of specialized paper, is not permitted on the shared Library HP LaserJet 9000 printers.  A stand-alone printer has been designated for all specialized printing jobs (e.g. resumes on specialized paper)
  • No output should be printed for profit
  • Single copies of non-profit campus-related materials may be printed; multiple copies are to be generated using photocopying facilities.

Viruses and System Failures

  • Individual users should take significant measures (e.g. regularly updated home anti-virus software) to ensure that personal disks are not infecting institutional computers
  • Although IT staff takes reasonable precautions to safeguard the network and maintain regular backup procedures, they cannot be held accountable for unauthorized access by other users, nor can they guarantee protection against media failure, fire, floods, hackers, viruses, etc.

Harassment

  • Using computers or networks to harass, abuse or intimidate another person is prohibited.
  • Users are not to display images, sounds or messages that could create an atmosphere of discomfort or harassment for others.

Food and drink are prohibited in public access computing areas.

System Responsibilities for User Accounts

Our network system is a finite resource that is intended to facilitate and support our mission as an institution of higher education.  IT reserves the right to limit the amount of file space allotted to each account on the server, or other measures as needed, to ensure system functionality.  This may include limits on daily hours of e-mail access. Although efforts will be made to post announcements of changes in advance, such measures may be initiated without prior notice.  Emergency situations can and do arise which require that such actions be taken on an immediate basis.

It may be necessary at times for the SUNY Optometry Electronic Mail Postmaster (e-mail: postmaster@sunyopt.edu) to read an electronic mail message that has failed to reach its destination in order to determine, if possible, the intended addressee and redirect the message to the correct address. The Postmaster and IT staff also routinely monitor overall system usage in order to track system problems.  This involves the monitoring of overall traffic levels and usage patterns; it does not involve examination of e-mail or other actual content.  However, it is not otherwise the practice of the Postmaster and IT Staff to read or to discuss the content of any message, patterns of electronic mail usage, or the content of any files, with the following exceptions:

  • Court order or law enforcement investigation may require the examination and release of any document, including electronic files such as e-mail. When a person affiliated with the College is involved, IT will act only under the specific written instructions of the President, to ensure that individual rights, including rights to privacy and due process, are maintained.
  • In cases involving suspected illegal, fraudulent or inappropriate uses of the system, IT may, at the specific written instructions of the President, monitor system usage of a particular individual, in a manner that ensures that rights of due process are maintained.

Disabling Accounts

It may be occasionally necessary for the SUNY Optometry Postmaster or other IT staff to make an account inaccessible. This could be necessary for such reasons as the following:

  • As a prelude to some sort of further investigation (e.g. preventing an individual from tampering with their computer files before they can be examined)
  • Technical problems: An account is in some manner disrupting the system, for example, because of a network intensive application.

Account Expiration, Suspension and Removal

User accounts of graduating students will be closed in August following Commencement.

Accounts of students withdrawing from the program, or faculty/staff leaving the College, will be closed following completion of the appropriate Separation Form returned to the Student Affairs or Personnel Offices, respectively.  Messages sent to closed e-mail accounts will be bounced from the system and returned to sender with an error message.

Other User Responsibilities

  • Backup important data. Although IT staff takes reasonable precautions to safeguard College systems and maintain regular backup procedures, they cannot be held accountable for unauthorized access by other users, nor can they guarantee protection against media failure, fire, floods, etc.  Users are encouraged to maintain backups of important files and e-mail messages on floppy disk, paper, USB flash drives or other media.
  • Stay informed. The computing environment is constantly evolving, as new products are introduced or upgraded and others become obsolete.  Services change as the number and needs of users change.  IT disseminates information in a variety of ways, including News announcements, bulletin board postings, FAQ files, Tip Sheets, and workshops.  Users are responsible for staying informed about changes in the computing environment.

Guidelines for Password Protection

  • You are responsible for all usage on your assigned account, and for guarding the privacy of that account
  • Upon receiving your account and initial password, be sure to change the password immediately.
  • Do not use your login names as a password, nor the name of any family or pet, nor any personal information, birth date, etc.
  • Do not use an all numeric password, or a password shorter than six characters
  • Don't save the password on your desktop computer; this will allow any individual to access your files and/or e-mail account upon gaining access to your office
  • Do use a password you will remember

Violations of this Policy

Violations of this policy may result in the suspension or permanent closing of user accounts, campus disciplinary action, legal action and/or other action.