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Acceptable Use of Technology pdf version of this page

an Information Technology Services Policy


East Tennessee State University (ETSU) provides access to the World Wide Web (Web) and information technology resources to enhance and support the educational mission of the university. It is the policy of ETSU to provide and maintain access for its community to local, national, and international sources of information and to provide an atmosphere that encourages the free exchange of ideas and sharing of information. Access to this environment and the university's information technology resources is a privilege and must be treated with the highest standard of ethics.

The university expects all members of the community to use computing and information technology resources in a responsible manner, respecting the public trust through which these resources have been provided, the rights and privacy of others, the integrity of facilities and controls, and all pertinent laws, university policies, and standards.

This policy outlines the standards for acceptable use of university computing and information technology resources. This policy applies to all users of ETSU computing and information technology resources, including faculty, staff, students, guests, external individuals or organizations and individuals accessing external network services, such as the Internet, via university facilities. Preserving the access to information resources is a community effort that requires each member to act responsibly and guard against abuses. Therefore, both the community as a whole and each individual user have an obligation to abide by these standards of acceptable and ethical use.

Purpose of Information Technology Resources

The primary purpose of East Tennessee State University's information technology resources is to enhance and support the educational mission of the university. Access to ETSU's technology resources is a privilege granted to university students, faculty, staff, and approved guests. These resources include hardware, software, computer accounts and local area networks, as well as connections to other computer networks via the Internet. Everyone using these resources is responsible for using them in an effective, ethical, and lawful manner.


ETSU encourages its units (colleges, schools, divisions, departments, centers, organizations, etc.) and its individual account holders to utilize computing resources provided by the university to facilitate education, instruction, and accomplish job duties.

ETSU must obey laws and governing body regulations, create the most comfortable environment for the greatest number of university members, project a positive image, and communicate effectively. For these reasons, ETSU has instituted this policy to govern the use of computing resources that belong to the university. This acceptable use policy will be amended and supplemented as needed.


ETSU policies apply to all university account holders. However, specific policies may target distinct subsets of the university community. For this reason, a "Primary Audience" (Student, Academic Departments, Administrative Departments, All, etc.) is identified in each individual policy. This identification is intended to identify any group(s) that should be most concerned with a particular policy; however, all policies apply to all users of university information technology resources.

General Restrictions

Both ETSU and the State of Tennessee have policies, procedures, standards, and guidelines that govern the use of the state's computing resources. ETSU's Acceptable Use policies augment this existing policy body. Users should be aware of the larger policy sources and realize that these policies are in effect. Some sources of these policies are:

All users must refrain from the following activities:

  • Using computing facilities and/or resources to violate any university policy or regulation, or federal, state, or local law;
  • Entering, without authorization, any account to use, read, transfer, or change the contents in any way;
  • Impersonating or misrepresenting another individual's computer account or email username;
  • Granting another individual access to your computer account;
  • Using computing resources to interfere with the work of other students, faculty, or university officials;
  • Using computing facilities and/or resources to send obscene, abusive, threatening, defamatory, or harassing messages;
  • Using computing resources to interfere with the normal operation of university computing systems and connected networks including, but not limited to, introducing viruses, flooding the network with messages, sending chain letters, or unfairly monopolizing resources that results in the exclusion of others;
  • Using university computing resources for profit or commercial purposes.
  • Intentional failure to comply with this policy will result in disciplinary action, which may include suspension of user privileges, suspension or expulsion from ETSU, or termination of university employment. In addition, violations may result in referral for prosecution by local, state, or federal authorities.

Reporting Violations or Clarifying Compliance

If it comes to the university's attention that computing resources are being used in a way that violates this policy (see Section 4.0 "General Restrictions") action will be taken to prevent future abuse of this policy.

Depending on the nature and severity of the violation, ETSU may be required to call in law enforcement and/or take disciplinary measures, including suspending or withdrawing computing privileges. ETSU may also take legal action, especially to recover any expenses incurred as a result of the violation.

If you wish to report an action that violates ETSU's policies, or if you need interpretations regarding compliance, contact Dr. Karen King, Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice Provost, Information Technology Services, Box 70728, Johnson City, TN 37614; telephone (423) 439-7068. It is the responsibility of the Chief Information Officer to refer violations to the appropriate university official.

Approved:  Information Technology Governance Council
Reviewed:  July 2016

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