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Acceptable Use Policy

Access to University computing and networking resources is a privilege available to all members of the University community. Certain responsibilities accompany that privilege.

GEN 1.3.(1). Acceptable Use of Computing Resources Policy. (Effective February 20, 2007) The University values openness and promotes access to a wide range of information. Campus information systems have been designed to be as open as possible, and as such the University insists on responsible use of these systems. The use of computers, electronic information and computer networks is essential for research, instruction and administration within the academic community. Because the electronic environment is easily disrupted and electronic information is readily reproduced, respect for the work and rights of others is especially important. Users of the University’s facilities are expected to adhere to this policy and, by accessing the system, the user agrees to comply with and be subject to this policy. These policy statements are intended to augment, not supersede, any additional contractual agreements of conduct or confidentiality to which a user may be subject. The University reserves the right to amend this policy at any time with or without notice. Questions or comments regarding this document should be addressed to the Director of Information Systems and Technologies.

User Responsibilities 

Access to University computing and networking resources is a privilege which is available to all members of the academic community. Certain responsibilities accompany that privilege. Understanding them is important for all computer users. The framework of responsible, considerate, and ethical behavior expected by the University extends to coverage of the use of all campus computers, campus network resources, and networks throughout the world to which the University provides computer access. The user is responsible for the correct use of the tools each computer system provides for maintaining the security of stored information. A summary of the security procedures relevant to this end is given below:

  • Computer accounts, passwords, lab access cards, and other types of authorization are assigned to individual users and should not be shared with others unless specifically authorized by proper University officials. The person to whom an authorization is assigned will be held accountable for any activity originating from that account.
  • The user should select an obscure password and change it frequently.
  • The user should seek to understand the level of protection each computer system automatically applies to files and supplement that protection, if necessary, for sensitive information.
  • It is incumbent upon every user to adhere to security policies and procedures and to call to the attention of Information Systems and Technologies those whom they feel are violating these procedures. Every effort will be made to ensure total anonymity.
  • If a user should encounter or observe a flaw in system or network security, this discrepancy must be reported to Information Systems and Technologies. Individuals must refrain from exploiting any such lapse in security.
  • The computer user should be aware of computer viruses and other destructive computer programs, and take steps to avoid being either their victim or propagator.


In general, information stored on computers is considered confidential, whether protected by the computer system or not, unless the owner intentionally makes that information available to other groups or individuals. The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh takes the position that computer users wish the information they store on central and campus shared computing resources to remain confidential. Users should be aware that data (including e-mail) may, due to software or hardware failure, become accessible to those who are not explicitly authorized for that access. Systems management personnel may also on occasion have access to such data while performing routine operations or pursuing apparent systems or user problems. Systems personnel are required to report apparent improper or illegal activities so discovered. No guarantee of complete privacy is made or implied by this policy. Requests for the disclosure of confidential information will be governed by the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) and the Wisconsin Open Records Statutes (Chapter 19, ss. 19.31 – 19.39, Laws of 1992). All such requests will be honored only when approved by University officials who are the legal custodians of the information requested, or when required by state or federal law, or court order. Users found to be copying, modifying, or otherwise accessing information for which they have not been granted permission will be liable to disciplinary action. The University also reserves the right to access, monitor, and/or appropriate an individual’s workstation or user account(s) for content when there are urgent and compelling circumstances such as the following:

  • a court order
  • a request for discovery in the course of litigation
  • a public record request for files which are deemed public records under public records laws
  • investigating University policy violations or illegal activities
  • sudden death or incapacity of the employee

Supervisors must report urgent/compelling circumstances that warrant exceptional actions through their Director, Assistant/Associate Vice Chancellor, or Dean to their Division Vice Chancellor. The Division Vice Chancellor will consult with the Director of Human Resources and the Chief Information Officer to determine an appropriate and feasible course of action. If the course of action involves accessing, monitoring, or appropriating an individual’s workstation or use account(s), a good faith effort will be made to inform the individual unless the University is bound by legal authority not to inform the individual.

Inappropriate Usage 

Users must be sensitive to the public nature of shared facilities. Behavior reflects both upon the individual and the University. Computing and networking resources should be used only in accordance with this policy. Any intentional behavior with respect to the electronic environment that interferes with the missions or activities of the University or members of the University community will be regarded as unethical and may lead to disciplinary action under standard University rules for misconduct and existing judicial, disciplinary or personnel processes. The University complies with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998). The University may terminate network access or take other disciplinary measures deemed appropriate against those who repeatedly infringe the copyright of others. Examples of inappropriate and unacceptable use of computing and networking resources include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Destruction of, unauthorized removal of, or damage to equipment, software, or data belonging to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh or other users.
  • Disruption or unauthorized monitoring of electronic communications. Tampering, modification, or additions to network software, hardware, or wiring.
  • Generation of excessive network traffic exceeding levels which create errors or performance problems for all users. Applications or computer hardware found to cause such problems may be moved to a different location or removed from the network, at the discretion of the network management staff.
  • Willful violations of computer system security.
  • Use of e-mail or messaging services to harass, intimidate, or otherwise annoy another person, for example, by broadcasting unsolicited messages or sending unwanted mail. Some mass mailings may be authorized by appropriate University authority. This would also apply to material originating from this campus but sent to other sites or persons on the Internet.
  • Use of computer accounts, access codes, or network identification numbers other than those assigned to you. Disguising or falsifying sources of electronic mail and other electronic communications with the intent of misleading, defrauding, or harassing others.
  • Use of computer and/or network facilities in ways that impede the computing activities of others (for example, randomly initiating interactive electronic communications or e-mail exchanges, overuse of interactive network utilities, playing games on shared resources, or the overuse of network-accessible discussion lists or file-transfer sites).
  • Setting up network servers or network services (such as naming and/or address servers, Web servers, dial-in access, file servers, etc.) without the prior authorization of the network management staff. Unauthorized activity of this type may be detrimental to the overall operation of the network and is not allowed.
  • Intentionally creating, displaying, printing or transmitting information which violates the University’s sexual harassment policy.
  • Use of computing facilities for financial gain or commercial purposes unrelated to the mission of the University.
  • Violation of software copyrights and usage licensing agreements. Violation of other copyrighted items such as icons, images, music, programs, text, etc.
  • Failure to properly attribute legitimately copied material.
  • Violation of the usage policies and regulations of the networks of which the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is a member or has authority to use.
  • Academic dishonesty (for example, plagiarism or cheating).(4)

Sanction and Appeal Process 

Violation of the policies described herein for use of computing resources will be dealt with seriously. Violators are subject to disciplinary procedures of the University, may lose computing privileges or account and network access, and may also be subject to prosecution by state and federal authorities under laws including, but not limited to: The Privacy and Protection Act of 1974; Wisconsin Statutes 1992-93, (41st Edition) (Chapter 19, Public Records and Property, ss. 19.31 -19.39; Chapter 939, Crimes – General Provisions, ss. 939.32(2), 939.50(3), 939.51(3), 939.66(4), 939.72(3); Chapter 943,Crimes Against Property, ss. 943.70); The Wisconsin Computer Crimes Act; The 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act; The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1989. The sanction and appeal process will vary, depending upon the classification of the offender within the University community. Suggested courses of action are described by, but are not limited to:

  • Student – Wisconsin Administrative Code, Section UWS 14 and UWS 17. These regulations are also maintained in a separate document entitled Student Discipline Code, which is available in the Dean of Student’s Office.
  • Classified Staff – Administered by the Human Resources Office, pursuant to the current University of Wisconsin System Classified Employees Work Rules; Chapter 230.34(1) of Wisconsin Statutes; Section Pers 24 of Wisconsin Administrative Code; and existing collective bargaining agreements.
  • Academic Staff / Faculty – The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Faculty and Academic Staff Handbook and specific departmental procedures, as warranted.
  • Other – Subject to the procedures of the organization or group with which they are affiliated, revocation of computing privileges, and possible state and federal prosecution.

Web Policy and Procedures 

What is the World Wide Web? The Web or World Wide Web (WWW) is an information system running over the Internet. It provides information electronically through the use of hypertext. A variety of multimedia techniques make it easy to roam, browse, and contribute to the Web.

  • Information placed on the Web is formatted using Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). The approved UW Oshkosh standard is HTML 3.2 or greater, defined in HTML documents have an extension of .html or .htm.
  • Graphics included in Web pages are usually in a Graphics Image Format (.gif) or Joint Photographic Experts Group(.jpg).
  • HTML documents will look different depending on what browser is used to access the Web. Browsers are the software programs that allow people to view Web documents. Common browsers are Netscape, Internet Explorer, and Lynx (a text-only browser).
  • Universal Resource Locators (URLs) are the detailed names used to access information. For example, is the URL for the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh home page.

Types of Browsers 

The University recognizes that external Web users seeking to access the University’s Web pages may be using other browsers. Web page authors are urged to keep this fact in mind when creating Web pages. Likewise, users creating PDF (Portable Document Format) files should consider creating duplicate versions in a Web standard format (such as .txt,.html, or .htm) for readers who are incapable of reading PDF files.


 Official Page – An official page speaks for the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and its programs and departments. Official pages represent colleges, departments and other University offices and programs. They include information such as University and department policies, forms, course information, institutional statistics, financial aid information, and recruitment information.

  • Personal Page – A personal page is one created by individual faculty, staff and students. Personal pages can be linked from departmental and program pages, but only with the approval of those in charge of those pages.

Standards for Web Pages 

  • All web publishers, whether they are publishing official or personal (see definitions above) pages, are responsible for the contents of their pages. They must adhere to the Acceptable Use Policy. University resources may not be used to distribute Web pages for personal business or gain.
  • UW Oshkosh will not edit or review personal home pages. The University does not accept responsibility for the contents of these pages; page-authors are responsible for the contents. However, if a violation of University policies on personal pages linked from the UW Oshkosh Web is discovered, the University will remove the link. Those responsible for department and program home pages on the UW Oshkosh Web must make sure that personal and other pages they link to do not violate University policies and local, state and federal laws.
  • The Acceptable Use Policy and laws regarding publishing and copyright apply to all pages.
  • All official pages must be approved by University Relations or an individual designated by that division.
  • There will be no effort to curtail the creative and experimental efforts of departments and programs that publish an official Web page. Any review is intended to ensure that all official information is accurate, is consistent with University policies and local, state and federal laws, and supports the University’s goals in education, research and community service. This includes links to other pages. An official page may be considered in violation if it contains links to a page that violates this policy.
  • Institutional departments and offices are encouraged to develop distinctive and creative Web pages. The image and reputation of UW Oshkosh will in part be determined by our presence on the Web, and that presence should embody the elements of our University. Review of official pages by University Relations will seek to ensure that factual information is presented in a way that is easily accessible. University Relations will encourage publishers to develop UW Oshkosh pages that are visually appealing and well written.

Minimum Standards for Web Pages 

The following minimum standards apply to all pages:

  • Documents and graphics should be clear. Page designs should emphasize brevity and judicious use of graphics in order to encourage the use of UW Oshkosh web pages and help people find the information they are seeking.
  • Loading of the page should be completed in a reasonable amount of time. A delay can discourage viewing of the page.
  • Large graphics delay viewing and should be avoided.
  • Each page should be written so that it can be understood out of context.
  • All documents must be accurate. Departments and offices displaying official information on such things as enrollments and courses must link to data provided by offices that are responsible for keeping such information. They should not create new documents with the same information.
  • All documents should have correct grammar and punctuation.
  • Acronyms should not be used as a first reference.
  • All references to institutional units, departments, buildings should use the names found in the University phone book.
  • The name of the department/program must appear at the top of each page.
  • Each page must provide a way of contacting the person responsible for maintaining the page (for example, phone number or e-mail address) and the date of the last revision. All files should be updated regularly, where appropriate.
  • Outdated information should be replaced or removed. Page publishers must obtain the express written permission of those owning an image or photo, and all those pictured in an image or photo, used in a page. Publishers must obtain the express written permission of the person or organization that owns a trademark that is used on a page. Publishers must also obtain the express written permission of persons or organizations owning the copyright of any material that is used on a page.
  • Each page must have a link back to the UW Oshkosh Home Page ( All pages must meet the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) Content Accessibility Guidelines, Priority 1 Levels (

CGI Scripts 

CGI (Common Gateway Interface) scripts allow the author of a web page to receive input from a viewer of the page, manipulate the data passed in, and pass back a customized response. Examples of some applications driven by CGI scripts are counters, feedback forms, guestbooks, database queries, clickable image maps, and mail list maintenance. CGI scripts must be approved and will be installed in a system directory. Departmental, personal, and organizational directories will not be allowed to act as CGI directories. To add a new script to the server, source code must be provided, and the technical and/or security administrator will evaluate the source, compile and install the script.


All official University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Web pages must be reviewed and approved by University Relations or someone designated by that division. Specific information that is published on Web pages must be reviewed and approved by the department responsible for that data. For example, financial aid information must be reviewed by the Financial Aid office and registration information would need to be reviewed by the Registrar’s office.

Steps for Submitting 

  • Submitter must have the page already loaded on the server.
  • Submitter should follow instructions to scan their Web page.
  • Once the page adheres to this policy, submitter should send an e-mail message to requesting that a link be made to the page.
  • University Relations will review the page. The submitter will then receive notification that the link has been made or an explanation of what needs to be changed before a link will be made.

Other Servers 

Approval from the Information Technology Division is required for departments to set up their own Web servers. Those departments interested in setting up departmental Web servers should contact the Director of Information Technology. The UW Oshkosh home page will maintain links to official pages only.

Disk Space 

Standard amounts of disk space will be allocated to official pages and personal pages. Departments requiring large amounts of disk space may be required to purchase their own Web server.