computer use policies

Advice to authors

The Department of Computer Science supports the free expression and exchange of ideas and opinions and hopes that users of its computer systems will actively explore the possibilities of electronic publication on the World Wide Web. The Department encourages students, faculty, and staff to create and publish Web pages through its servers, believing that such creative work develops analytical and imaginative thinking, critical independence, and respect for intellectual and social diversity.

Exercising one's right to free speech in an academic community, however, also entails some responsibilities that authors should be aware of:

  • It is improper and inappropriate to use the Department's Web servers purposely to annoy, abuse, libel, threaten, or harass anyone, individually or collectively, or to violate state or federal laws.

  • The author of a text or the creator of a graphic is protected by copyright law unless she specifically releases her work into the public domain. Other authors should not copy such texts or graphics onto their own Web pages without the original author's permission.

  • In particular, authors should secure the permission of Grinnell College before using the College logo or reproducing parts of any College publication, and should not use the name of the College in any way that implies endorsement of the author's personal ideas and opinions.

  • According to the Student Handbook, a Grinnell College student who wishes to start a business or to organize a fund-raising campaign must have prior approval and should apply to the Dean of Student Affairs.

  • Authors should not use the Department's servers for any activity that violates the College's policies on academic honesty.

  • The College's computing resources are finite. If one user's Web pages are so frequently accessed or involve the transmission of such large amounts of data that other uses of the equipment are impeded, the system administrators may remove the pages. (Normally, the user will first be given the opportunity to find a different Internet service provider better equipped to distribute those pages.)

  • On each page, authors should provide either a mailto: link (in an HTML document) or an e-mail address, so that a reader can easily identify the author and send comments and criticism.

  • Authors should ensure that their pages do not go out of date and should include the date of last revision on pages containing time-sensitive information.

MathLAN use policies

The following policies of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science supplement Grinnell's Academic Computer Use Policies.

MathLAN policies apply only to this department's network. When MathLAN equipment is used to access outside equipment, either in the College or over the Internet, then all ITS policies apply as well.

Violators of these policies may be prosecuted following the procedures outlined by ITS regulations or have their accounts deactivated.


We distinguish four categories of computer use. In descending priority, they are:

  1. academic work for courses within the department;
  2. other scholarly work sponsored by faculty members in the department;
  3. academic work for courses outside the department and other scholarly work sponsored by faculty members outside the department; and
  4. other uses, consistent with ITS's statement on the proper use of computing resources.

When the demand for equipment in the laboratory or computer-equipped classroom exceeds what is available, users engaged in activities of lower priority must yield to those requiring the equipment for projects with higher priority.

When a class has reserved the laboratory or computer-equipped classroom, only members of that class are permitted to use the reserved room during class time. Students not in the class may, upon consultation with the faculty member running the class, receive permission to use the reserved room.

Shared resources

Since MathLAN is a network, a user has the capability of running processes on several workstations at once. It is inappropriate for one user to interfere with the processing of others who may be running jobs of equal or higher priority. Similarly, it is inappropriate for a user to run jobs that generate so many messages over the network as to degrade processing for other users. It is also inappropriate to remote log-in or telnet to a machine on which another member of the community is currently working.

The workstations on faculty desks are for the use of those faculty members. Any student who runs processes on a faculty workstation without permission from that faculty member or a MathLAN administrator may have his or her account deactivated.

Account sharing

The Grinnell College Academic Computer Use Policies discuss sharing of accounts in sections III.A.1 and III.A.2:

  1. No person may use, or attempt to use, any computer accounts other than his/her own assigned account. The negligence or naivete of another user in revealing an account name and password does not confer authorization to use the account.
  2. An account owner may not lend his/her account(s) to another user.

The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science realizes that you may need to share accounts when working together on a laboratory, and permits such use. However, that is the limit of sharing. In particular, no student may use an account without the owner of that account present.

Particular applications

Internet Relay Chat

The department does not forbid the use of Internet Relay Chat (IRC). However, such use must not violate the guidelines described in Grinnell's Academic Computer Use Policies. Furthermore, the department disallows the use of chat robots and proxy servers without prior permission of a MathLAN administrator. Such programs often result in decreased system or network performance and thereby directly affect other users, both local and remote.


According to the above policies, games running on MathLAN and played by individuals fall within priority 4, unless game programs are specifically assigned as part of a course or are part of project under faculty sponsorship. Thus, a game may be run on MathLAN provided that (1) others are not waiting for workstations for academic purposes, (2) the running of the game will not generate processes on machines used by others, and (3) the game does not significantly interfere with the message load over the network.

Since MUDs and other games involving the Internet utilize the all-campus router, such games are explicitly prohibited by ITS policy.


Students may not use the projection systems in the Department's classrooms and labs to show movies, except for academic purposes and with the express permission of the Department.

Account deactivation

In addition to the reasons given above, an account may be deactivated by a MathLAN administrator if the administrator deems that the account is being used inappropriately or has suspicious activity. In addition, any account inactive for a year or more may be deactivated.

The MathLAN administrator will maintain the files of any deactivated account, either on disk or on backup tape, until the owner of that account graduates or otherwise leaves the Grinnell community.

At the time of an account's deactivation, the accounts owner will be contacted through his or her standard Grinnell e-mail account. A student's account may be reactivated upon request.

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