Administrators said the policy, adopted at the beginning of the semester, deals with issues raised by the recent introduction of more sophisticated telecommunications and other forms of technology to the Boston College community. While these advances contribute to the University's mission, administrators said, they may also give rise to potential problems in areas such as confidentiality and copyright protection.
"Our point of view is, we do not need a policy simply because we expect problems to occur," said Information Technology Executive Director Bernard Gleason. "A policy is a frame of reference, something that expresses an institutional philosophy and sets a tone."
One area in which the policy sets out specific guidelines is "broadcast messages" - distributing information on a campus-wide basis through voice or electronic mail systems.
Broadcast messaging should be used infrequently, administrators said, such as for announcing the cancellation of work and classes due to inclement weather, because the activity can tie up the system and affect its operation. The University's World Wide Web home page, cable television system and other media are more appropriate for most events and other announcements, they said.
"The basic rule for anyone sending a message is, if you are not certain that the recipient wants to receive the message, then don't send it," Gleason said.
The ability to broadcast voice mail messages is restricted to a handful of University offices, Gleason noted, but the electronic mail system has few inherent limits on distribution. The University community, therefore, must self-regulate e-mail usage, he added, by replying to senders of unwanted messages, who will also receive a brochure on "netiquette" from Information Technology.
Other areas covered by the policy are access, protecting confidentiality, privacy, personal use and misuse of resources, and potentially offensive material.
Gleason said readers will find the policy employs common sense. One section states that the computer network is not to be used for criminal purposes, for example, while another states that Boston College "respects the privacy rights of all members of the University community." The policy also calls for communications from members of the University community to "reflect mutual respect, civility and other moral standards."
The policy, which arose from discussions among representatives from several administrative areas, such as Information Technology, Student Affairs, Internal Audit and the Office of the Academic Vice President, can be found in the Boston College Policies and Procedures Manual.
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