Appropriate Use Policy

This policy affects the students, faculty, and staff of St. John’s College and use of all of the information technology systems belonging to the College.

The St. John’s College Information Technology System includes: computers, communications networks, computer accounts, web pages, network access, central computing facilities, and related services. Access to and use of the College Information Technology System is a privilege granted to currently enrolled students, faculty, and staff. As a user of the Information Technology System, you have two basic rights:

  • Privacy
  • A fair share of resources.

In turn, you bear citizenship responsibilities to preserve these rights for your fellow technology system users. This statement of rights and responsibilities is grounded in the community standards and policies outlined in the college’s student, tutor, and staff handbooks.

All computer accounts and files belong to somebody.

Your Right: Privacy. No other user may browse, access, copy, or change your computer files without your authorization.

Your Responsibility: To uphold your right to privacy and that of your fellow users by not allowing another individual to use your computer account, and by not using another person’s account or attempting to gain access to their files without authorization.

Accessing others’ files or monitoring their computer or network use except by technology staff for system troubleshooting, maintenance, or security purposes constitutes a violation of privacy. Ability to access a file does not grant permission to do so.

You are responsible for any use of your account; therefore, you need to take all reasonable precautions, including maintaining a secure password and always logging your account out, to prevent use of your account by others.

Information Technology System

The College Information Technology System, including Internet services, is a shared resource provided to St. John’s students, faculty, and staff. The services support the business of the College: teaching, learning, scholarship, and administration. Recreational use of resources is not allowed to degrade System performance at any time.

Your Rights: Fair access. No other user may deny, diminish, or disrupt your access through any means, including: intentionally, recklessly or negligently damaging equipment and other physical resources; intentionally, recklessly or negligently attempting to degrade, disrupt, or damage computer system and network performance, software, data, or data transmission; unduly consuming computing or network resources; violating the privacy of your files and accounts; masquerading as another user; distributing material which violates applicable local, state, and federal laws; distributing material which is demeaning or discriminatory via any electronic mail or other computer network facility; making random or mass mailings; and using resources for commercial or political purposes.

Your Responsibility: To uphold the right to fair access of your fellow users by properly utilizing resources and avoiding any detrimental effect on the work of others. You are responsible for the behavior of any computer you connect to the College network; therefore, you need to take all reasonable precautions including running anti-virus and anti-spyware software and keeping their definitions current.

Your use of the St. John’s College Information Technology System must comply with all federal, New Mexico, Maryland, and other applicable laws as well as all applicable contracts and licenses and College policies as articulated in the student, faculty and staff handbooks.

These laws, contracts, licenses, and policies include:

  • Laws governing libel, privacy, copyright, trademark, obscenity, and child pornography;
  • The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which prohibits eavesdropping on network data;
  • The Computer Abuse Amendments Act, which prohibits spreading viruses or other harmful code;
  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which prohibits the distribution of copyrighted materials over the Internet for which the distributor does not have permission;
  • The College’s sexual harassment policy;
  • The College’s non-profit status; and
  • All applicable software licenses.


If a literary, musical, or artistic work is copyrighted, there are legal limits on who can copy or otherwise use that work. Copyright infringement is the act of exercising, without permission or legal authority, one or more of the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner under section 106 of the Copyright Act (Title 17 of the United States Code). These rights include the right to reproduce or distribute a copyrighted work. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading substantial parts of a copyrighted work without authority constitutes an infringement. Students are responsible for making sure that their use of copyrighted materials is appropriate and legal. If a student infringes on copyright using College resources, the College may be held liable. The Assistant Dean, the Director of IT, and the Library Director are available to answer questions about appropriate use of copyrighted materials.

Copyright infringement will be treated as a disciplinary matter, subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion. Legal penalties for copyright infringement include both civil and criminal penalties. In general, anyone found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or “statutory” damages affixed at not less than $750 and not more than $30,000 per work infringed. For “willful” infringement, a court may award up to $150,000 per work infringed. A court can, in its discretion, also assess costs and attorneys’ fees. For details, see Title 17, United States Code, Sections 504, 505. Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000 per offense. More information can be found on the Web site of the US Copyright Office, and their FAQs.

Policy Violations

Alleged violations of this policy, or violation of other College policies in the course of using the Information Technology System, may result in an immediate loss of privileges and may also result in the referral of the matter to the appropriate judicial authority as specified in each College handbook.