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  • Guidelines for Use of MSU Moorhead Computer and Network Systems

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  • Guidelines for Use of MSU Moorhead Computer and Network Systems

    (Adapted from the Guidelines for Use of MnSCU Computer Systems).


    All colleges and universities within the MnSCU system must develop policies and guidelines which cover the following areas:

    • Data Access, Privacy, Security, Backup and Archiving
    • Network/Internet Usage (E-mail, Bulletin Boards, Groupware, News Groups, Chat rooms, Multi-User Dungeons)
    • World Wide Web Use and Web Page Development
    • Games and Recreational Use

    The policy should designate the individual responsible for computer and network system operation. College and university policies must be consistent with the legal and general use guidelines listed below. The policies may restrict use or establish fees to accommodate limited resources or facilities.



    Computer systems and electronic networks have become integral to high-quality teaching, learning, research and administration throughout Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSU Moorhead). MSU Moorhead computer systems and networks should be used to carry out college and university business consistent with the institution's educational mission.

    MSU Moorhead values openness and promotes access to a wide range of information. Inappropriate or unlawful use of computer and network systems, however, can infringe on the rights of others. The use of MSU Moorhead computer systems and networks is a privilege granted to MSU Moorhead faculty, staff, and students. MSU Moorhead expects all members of its community to use these resources responsibly. Users must respect the rights of other users and the integrity of the systems, and observe all relevant laws, regulations, and contractual obligations, including strict adherence to software licensing agreements and copyright laws. Any intentional conduct that interferes with the activities of the MSU Moorhead institution or members of the MSU Moorhead community will be regarded as unethical and may lead to disciplinary action under MnSCU/MSU Moorhead policies, contracts, and pay plans governing misconduct and discipline.

    The use of MSU Moorhead computer systems and electronic networks is currently regulated by state and federal laws. The MSU Moorhead Computer and Network System Guidelines draw upon existing laws, as well as procedures and practices throughout MnSCU and at academic institutions across the country. These guidelines are intended to ensure the integrity of the MSU Moorhead computer and network systems by outlining the policies for data storage, security and Internet use (E-mail, news groups, World Wide Web).
    MSU Moorhead computer systems and/or networks refer to any system or network on the Minnesota State University Moorhead campus (including classroom, office, lab and dormitories).


    As state employees, MSU Moorhead faculty and staff must adhere to the highest ethical standards when conducting state business and must follow all state law and policies. The State Code of Ethics, Minnesota Statutes Section 43A.38, was amended in 1997 to specifically address electronic communications by state employees. The existing statute on use of state property was amended as follows:

    Subd. 4. Use of state property. An employee shall not use or allow the use of state time, supplies, or state owned or leased property and equipment for the employee' private interest or any other use not in the interest of the state, except as provided by law. (b) An employee may use state time, property, or equipment to communicate electronically with other persons including, but not limited to elected officials, the employer, or an exclusive bargaining representative under chapter 179A, provided this use, including the value of the time spent, results in no incremental cost to the state or results in an incremental cost that is so small as to make accounting for it unreasonable or administratively impracticable.


    Thus, MSU Moorhead E-mail systems and Internet and other computer access must permit reasonable, personal use; however, other than this limited exception, MSU Moorhead computer systems are treated like other state equipment or resources, intended for public business and other MSU Moorhead-sanctioned activities. The new law directs the commissioners of administration and employee relations to issue a state policy, which must permit (and define) reasonable personal use, and address other issues such as privacy and content of communication. A copy of this policy should be attached to the college or university E-mail/Internet policy.

    Administrators and supervisors are responsible for ensuring the appropriate use of E-mail and Internet access through training, monitoring, coaching and taking disciplinary action, when necessary.



    Security. MSU Moorhead cannot guarantee the privacy or security of any electronic data or transmission. For example, E-mail messages can be altered by a recipient and re-transmitted as if from the original sender, and data can be illegally accessed. Additionally, E-mail messages and Internet transactions, (including those deleted or erased by the user) may be backed up or recorded and stored centrally for system security and investigative purposes. Files may be retrieved and viewed by someone else with proper authority at a later date. It is the user's responsibility to use care in communicating information not meant for public viewing.

    Government/Student Data. Data maintained electronically by MSU Moorhead, including administration and faculty, are subject to classification under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13) and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Some of the data, therefore, may be accessible by the subject of the data or by the public; conversely, some of the data may be disclosed only in limited circumstances. Because the E-mail and Internet systems are not secure, employees may not send any data classified as not public (private or confidential data on individuals or nonpublic or protected nonpublic data not on individuals) over the E-mail or Internet systems unless the data is encrypted or encoded.

    Privacy. MSU Moorhead does not routinely monitor the content of electronic transmissions or data. MSU Moorhead also does not generally restrict the material transported across MSU Moorhead networks or residing or posted on MSU Moorhead computers. MSU Moorhead does, however, reserve the right to limit access to networks or to remove or limit access to materials posted on MSU Moorhead-owned or MSU Moorhead-networked computers when MSU Moorhead/MnSCU policies or state or federal laws are violated.

    Administrative Access. Authorized individuals may access files as part of normal administrative tasks to protect the integrity of the computer system or to protect the rights or property of MSU Moorhead. Authorized individuals may also access data if there is reason to suspect illegal or improper use of the system or if necessary to determine whether MSU Moorhead policies or state or federal laws have been violated. Such right of access is a condition of use of MSU Moorhead computer systems and networks.


    State and federal laws apply to MSU Moorhead computers and networks. These laws govern access to and appropriate use of computer systems and networks, the maintenance of files and data security, the adherence to copyright provisions, respect of individual privacy, and the protection from harassment. The laws include those that are specific to computers and networks, as well as those that may apply generally to personal conduct. Users of Minnesota State University Moorhead computers and networks must strictly adhere to these laws. The following are among the areas of particular concern:

    Copyright laws and license agreements. Federal copyright law prohibits making unauthorized copies of copyrighted material (such as commercial software, text, graphic images, audio, and video recordings) or unauthorized distributing of copyrighted materials over computer networks or through other means. MSU Moorhead does not condone the unauthorized copying of licensed computer software by staff, faculty, or students and expects all members of the MSU Moorhead community to abide by federal law and MSU Moorhead agreements (including software licensing agreements). No one may copy or load software, images, or duplicate any MSU Moorhead software or other intellectual property for use on other machines unless authorized to do so.

    Computer-related laws. Minnesota and federal law prohibit the theft of a computer as well as unauthorized damage or access to a computer, computer network, software, or related property. (See Minnesota Statutes, Sections 609.87-609.89.11; 18 U.S.C. 1030). There are also state and federal wiretap laws and various anti-fraud provisions that apply to activities on computer and network systems.

    Harassment. The law treats harassing material delivered to an individual by a computer as equivalent to delivery by any other method. Individuals should notify the MSU Moorhead Information Technology Department if they receive harassing material.


    MSU Moorhead faculty, staff, and students must respect the integrity of the computer system. In addition to conduct that might violate federal or state law or MSU Moorhead policies, the following conduct violates these Guidelines:

    • Attempting to access, without authorization, any MSU Moorhead campus computer systems, data files, or user accounts;
    • Using any MSU Moorhead computer systems to access, without authorization, a computer network, or computer system external to MSU Moorhead;
    • Removing MSU Moorhead equipment without authorization;
    • Willfully and knowingly damaging any equipment or software;
    • Attempting to gain access, without authorization, to another users' computer accounts, files or data;
    • Attempting to gain access to any type of private records (i.e., student, personnel, medical) without written authorization to do so;
    • Attempting to change data or software that does not belong to you;
    • Attempting to install any software on a lab computer without prior authorization;
    • Knowingly introducing any type of invasive software such as computer viruses or network sniffers, on any of the MSU Moorhead computer systems or networks; or
    • Attempting to restrict another's use of a computer, or computer network through the deliberate overuse or overload of system resources.



    Faculty, staff, and students may not use computer or network systems that violate MSU Moorhead policy, procedure, or contract. In addition, the following conduct violates these Guidelines:

    • Using MSU Moorhead computers and networks for solicitation, selling or personal gain unless authorized to do;
    • Using MSU Moorhead computer systems and networks for partisan political campaigning;
    • Using computer systems or networks to send any kind of material (e.g. messages, images) that constitutes harassment or discrimination under law or policy; or
    • Engaging in gambling or illegal activities.

    As noted elsewhere in these guidelines, MSU Moorhead reserves the right to access computers and computer systems to administer the system and investigate improper use.



    MSU Moorhead is responsible for ensuring administrative and academic operations of the computer systems and networks. It is important that recreational use of computers (e.g. Multi-User Dungeons, chat rooms, bulletin boards, and web surfing) does not interfere with administrative and academic use of systems.

    MSU Moorhead faculty, staff, and students need to be aware that others may be waiting to use computer resources (especially lab computers and dial-in modems) during peak times including evenings and mid-term and final exam weeks. Faculty, staff, and students should exercise courtesy by refraining from the recreational use of MSU Moorhead computer resources during peak usage times.


    In addition to the general guidelines detailed above, the following guidelines apply to particular computer services.


    MSU Moorhead recognizes the educational and administrative benefits of electronic communications throughout the campus. Other than "official" communications made on behalf of the institution, MSU Moorhead is not considered the publisher of electronic messages.

    MSU Moorhead faculty, staff, and students who use E-mail may not engage in the following conduct:

    • Use state time to send or read private electronic mail or bulletin board messages or publications on the World Wide Web if not reasonably related to administrative or academic work or to teaching or learning;
    • Send electronic messages or images to anyone who has requested that they not be sent such transmissions;
    • Create or forward chain letters electronically;
    • Change, conceal or forge the identity of the person who is sending E-mail;
    • Change the UNIX finger information such that it no longer contains the account holder's correct full name,
    • Send any kind of material (e.g. messages, images) that violates MSU Moorhead harassment policy.



    Mail lists such as LISTSERV, Bulletin Boards, and News Groups provide discussion venues for a large variety of topics and interests that may serve the higher education community through the exchange of ideas and opinions.

    MSU Moorhead cannot and does not control access to mail lists and news groups available on the Internet that are administered external to MSU Moorhead. Subscriptions to an externally managed mail list or participation in a news group discussion are the responsibility of the individual for the viewpoints and messages from these mail lists.

    Participation in mail lists or news groups using a MSU Moorhead account domain name should be done in a manner appropriate for members of the MSU Moorhead community.


    The Official list is created and used by college and university administrative areas for various purposes. Participation in this mail lists is a condition of employment and is not determined by personal subscription or personal choice.

    Other MSUM Listservs are created and maintained by various classes, individuals, and groups. Subscription to these lists may not be required. These lists are used for class discussion and other information that is to be shared by a group of individuals.


    The World Wide Web offers students, faculty, and staff the ability to disseminate ideas and images to colleagues around the world.
    MnSCU Guidelines state:
    MnSCU institutions may create official web pages, e.g., electronic home pages, publication pages, and other pages that carry out official business. These pages are subject to institutional oversight and control. Individual faculty, staff, or students may create personal web pages for use in academic and related activities. Appearance and content of all pages must be consistent with MSU Moorhead policies and state and federal laws. Web pages may not be used for personal commercial activities, except as otherwise permitted by MnSCU policy.

    Individual college and university campuses are responsible for establishing style and format guides for their official web pages, as well as style guides for faculty, staff, or student web pages. These style guides must set criteria for acceptable design, content, links, and usage.
    Minnesota State University Moorhead Guidelines state:
    MSU Moorhead departments may develop a web site.
    MSU Moorhead recognized organizations may develop a web site.
    MSU Moorhead students may develop a web site on the student web server (SWS).
    MSU Moorhead department and recognized organization web sites are considered official MSU Moorhead publications and must follow the university defined graphic standards and must follow MSUM Web Site Standards.
    All servers linked to the MSU Moorhead web site may be identified in the domain name server (DNS).
    All executable files (e.g. CGI, Perl, Win/CGI, Java, PHP, etc.) must be created and run on the Application web server. All executable files should be thoroughly tested prior to installation on the application server.

    Any employee, department or organization wishing to create a web site

    • Must apply for web site and/or network connection
    • Must conform to all MSU Moorhead, State of Minnesota, and Federal policies and standards
    • Specific employee, department, or organization web guidelines may be developed but they must conform to this guideline
    • Must identify the individual responsible for the web site, including name, position, e-mail address, and phone number. Responsibilities of this individual include:
      • Training student workers assigned to develop web publications
      • All data collection required to develop and maintain the associated web pages.
      • All data entry required to develop and maintain the associated web pages.
      • Periodic review of all associated web pages for data integrity; that is assurance that pages are accurate and current.
    • Minnesota State University Moorhead reserves the right to remove from the University website any web pages of former employees within ten (10) calendar days following the individual's final day of employment.



    MSU Moorhead will take all violations to the computer and network policies seriously. Students may be subject to any appropriate sanctions provided under the university student conduct code. Employees will be subject to appropriate discipline under the collective bargaining agreement or compensation plan. In addition to sanctions under appropriate policies and contracts, anyone who violates these MSU Moorhead guidelines may be subject to any or all of the following sanctions, depending on the nature and the seriousness of the violation:

    • Fines to replace or restore damage to hardware or software and/or compensate staff required to carry out repair
    • Loss of computer and network system access
    • Civil proceedings
    • Criminal prosecution

    MSU Moorhead will report any violation to the proper authorities including, but not limited to, campus, local and state police, the State Attorney General's Office, and/or federal law enforcement (FBI or Secret Service).

    MSU Moorhead has the right to suspend the accounts and inspect the files and data of any person suspected of misconduct pending the outcome of an investigation. Data and files may be turned over to the appropriate authorities.

    Computer Use Fee

    MSU Moorhead has established a student computer use fee in accordance with MnSCU guidelines. Currently students are assessed $1.00 per semester credit up to a maximum of 12 credits per semester during the regular academic year.

    Data Backup and Archiving

    Minicomputers and Novell server backups are run daily. Backup copies are kept for a minimum of one week. The Information Technology Department may charge a recovery fee for recovering files.