University Student Handbook

Academic Computing

Computers are available to all patrons in the Greenawalt Library. Access to the computers in room 25 and at the walk-ups stations are limited to currently enrolled Northwestern students, faculty and staff. 

Campus computers are to be used for educational or authorized university-related purposes only. Installation of personal software, including games, is prohibited and may result in the loss of computer privileges or other disciplinary sanctions. 

In order to allow computer access for all students, please limit internet browsing to a reasonable amount of time.

Electronic Mail

The University provides electronic mail accounts to all students, faculty, and staff. Students are assigned an e-mail account for the purpose of receiving official University correspondence and promoting intra-university communication. Students are responsible for all information, including attachments, transmitted to them via their e-mail account. Use of the University’s electronic mail system is subject to the University’s policy for Acceptable Use of Computers, Network, Telecommunications, and Information Systems.

Student Broadcast Email Policy

Communications to the campus community that originate from students are restricted to events that have general value to the Northwestern community. Students must obtain approval from the Office of Student Affairs before broadcast emails may be distributed. Broadcast emails are defined as emails that are sent to groups larger than a student’s class. Students may send emails to their class members for educational purposes without prior authorization from Student Affairs.  To obtain approval for sending a broadcast email, students should send a copy of the email they wish to send and the reason for their request to Student Affairs at

Acceptable Use of Computers, Networks, Telecommunications, and Information Systems Technology Policy


Computers, networks, telecommunications, and other information systems technology are essential resources for accomplishing the mission of the University. It is the responsibility of all University’s computer, network, and information systems technology users to use these resources in an effective, efficient, and responsible manner.


  1. Limited Resources

    Information technology resources are both limited and expensive. Although the amount of usage may vary among users, all users should avoid excessive usage of these resources, especially when it impacts upon the usage of others. All members of the University community are responsible for protecting the University's resources.

    1. No user should permit anyone else to use her or his computer account for any reason. Users are responsible for all activity relating to their accounts.
    2. No one who is provided with information technology access for their work as a student, faculty member, or staff member of the University should use this access for work not specifically authorized. This includes, but is not limited to, unauthorized commercial use, use in support of an organization or effort external to the University, use for personal financial gain, or excessive personal use. These restrictions do not fully apply to those students, faculty and staff who obtain personal computing resources through the University via a lease/purchase arrangement.
    3. The University will make every effort to provide computers and information technology services to meet demands; however, there are reasonable upper limits on computer usage. Excessive amounts of central processor time or disk usage will be checked for on central systems, as well as excess amounts of printing on public printers. Instructional, research, and administrative computing take precedence over personal computing. Users shall not send chain letters via electronic mail. Mass emails require approval from the Student Affairs department. Users should avoid all activities that generate unnecessary output, create unnecessary multiple jobs or processes, or create unnecessary network traffic.
    4. No person or organizational unit with a long-distance access code for University business purposes should allow any other person or organizational unit to use that code. Faculty and staff with business access should not use their codes for personal long-distance calls. Because the University receives a tax reduction on business calls, it is not legal or ethical to make personal calls, even if restitution is made.
  2. Privacy

    Users of the University's computer and telecommunications systems expect security of their accounts and privacy of information stored in their accounts. The Information Technology Department will make reasonable attempts to provide such security and privacy for users.

    1. Users should keep passwords and access codes secret. Report any suspicious account activity to the Information Technology Department. If a password or access code has been compromised, contact the Information Technology Department immediately.
    2. Members of the University community who are expecting to leave the University permanently should work with the Information Technology Department to dispose of or redistribute information stored in their personal computer or on network drives. Information Technology reserves the right to close accounts and dispose of information stored on personal computers or network drives if no arrangements are made to save this information. The University may claim the right to information produced by employees as part of their regular duties, subject to certain limitations.
    3. All users should be aware that information transmitted electronically is very easy to forward to others. A good rule is to never send out any information by electronic mail or voice mail that you would not want distributed widely.
    4. All users should be aware that information transmitted electronically, by telephone, voice mail, or computer systems, is subject to the same University policies and international, federal, state, and local laws that apply to written and oral communications. Information that others view as abusive, profane, pornographic, harassing, threatening, libelous, or sexually, racial, or religiously offensive may be addressed under other University policies or the applicable laws.
    5. The University’s employees or agents reserve the right to monitor, examine or disclose the contents of data, electronic files/communications, or other system accounting information. The University also reserves the right to monitor, access and disclose the contents of employees’ electronic and/or telephone communications (including e-mail and voice mail). The issuance of a password or other means of access to the computer or voice mail systems is to assure appropriate confidentiality of University files and information. The issuance of a password DOES NOT guarantee privacy for personal or improper use of University equipment and facilities.
  3. Property

    Software and information stored on computer systems or transmitted over computer networks is considered intellectual property and is protected by copyright law and rules governing plagiarism.

    1. All members of the University community must abide by the terms of all software licensing agreements. Absolutely no software piracy will be tolerated.
    2. Users may not use University resources to gain access to either local or remote accounts or computers which they are not authorized to use. Users may not try in any way to obtain a password for another person's account.
    3. Users must not attempt to circumvent data protection schemes or uncover security loopholes on either University computer systems or remote computer systems.
    4. Users must not attempt to monitor or read another person's electronic mail or other data transmissions without permission. Users may not read, copy, change, or delete another person's files or software without permission of the owner.
  4. System Security

    Actions that cause the telephone system, voice mail system, computer systems or networks at the University to fail or become impaired are absolutely forbidden.

    1. Absolutely no physical abuse or theft of equipment, wiring, software, or data will be tolerated.
    2. Absolutely no misuse of the telephone system, the voice-mail system, computer systems, the computer network, or other systems on the network will be tolerated. This includes, but is not limited to, breaking into, halting, slowing down, or breaching security of any of these systems. In particular, introduction of any of a range of programs known as computer viruses, Trojan horses, or worms is expressly forbidden.
    3. A user may not attempt to disguise the identity of the account or machine he or she is using or the nature of the work that he or she is doing.
    4. Anonymous or pseudonymous written communications appear to disassociate users from responsibility for their actions, and are almost always inappropriate. Concealing or misrepresenting user name or affiliation to mask irresponsible, offensive, and/or prohibited behavior is a serious abuse of University computing resources. Using identifiers associated with other individuals as your own constitutes fraud.
    5. A standard set of software products will be installed on each networked computer, to include Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, and Internet Explorer. Installation of software without prior review and authorization by the Information Technology Department is prohibited, and may constitute cause for termination of access privileges.
  5. World Wide Web

    The University recognizes the value and potential of publishing on the Internet, and so allows and encourages divisions, departments and organizational units to publish electronic information. Divisions, departments, and organizational units may create electronic home pages, publications pages, or other pages that carry out official University business in support of the University's mission and goals.

    1. All division, department, and organizational unit pages are the electronic equivalent of a publication, and will begin with some reference to the University, either in text or in graphical form.
    2. Copyright laws apply to electronic publishing as well as to print publishing. Publishers must have permission to publish the information, graphics, or photographs on their pages, if the publisher is not the author or creator. Electronic publications are subject to the same University policies and standards as print publications.
    3. All pages accessible to the general public that contain health or treatment-related information must contain a link to the general Copyright & Disclaimer page; the URL for this page may be obtained from the Office of Communications.
    4. University resources may not be used to create web pages primarily intended for personal business or personal gain, except as permitted by other University policies. Personal pages that provide information about an individual relevant to that individual's role at the University are permissible, within the content provided by a division, department, or organizational unit.
    5. University web pages may not link to any external site that violates University policy or international, federal, state and local laws pertaining to content, including but not limited to those policies and laws relating to intellectual property, harassment, and offensive behavior. When identified, links to such material must be immediately deactivated.
  6. Disciplinary Procedure

Violations of this policy will be handled through existing disciplinary procedures. Policy infractions may incur sanctions up to and including loss of account privileges, dismissal or expulsion. The Information Technology Department reserves the right to temporarily suspend a user's access pending disciplinary, procedures.