Computer Use and File Sharing

You'll have a better experience on this website using a secure, up-to-date browser. Click here for information and instructions about updating.

Computer and Network Usage

The norms of justice, caring, and trust require that persons use only their own accounts and passwords; never misrepresenting themselves as another user. No one should create, modify, execute or retransmit any computer program or instructions intended to gain unauthorized access to, or make unauthorized use of any computer facilities or software.
All computer and electronic files belong to somebody. Therefore they should be assumed to be private and confidential unless the owner has explicitly made them available to others. The college reserves the right, however, to access all files for maintenance purposes and you should not expect privacy when this occurs.
System Resources
Good stewardship requires that care be taken not to monopolize systems, overload networks with excessive data (including bandwidth space), or waste computer time, connect time, disk space, printed paper or other system resources. In addition, system resources should never be used to create, view, transmit, or receive electronic information that is obscene, pornographic, defamatory, harassing, threatening, containing racial or sexual slurs, or which is otherwise inappropriate in the context of our Christian college community.
Network Integrity
All users of information technology should respect the integrity of Dordt's Internet and Intranet so as not to interfere with or disrupt network users, services, or equipment. Interference or disruption includes, but is not limited to, distribution of unsolicited advertising, propagation of computer viruses, and use of the network to make unauthorized entry into other computational, communications, or information devices or resources.


All of the software purchased by the college for the use of its faculty, staff and students remains the property of Dordt University. The unauthorized duplication of software or operation on machines other than for which the software is licensed is not allowed.
To assure dependability, reliability, safety, and delightful harmony, any software used on Dordt University information technology systems must conform to specifications described in the current "Supported, Approved, and Unsupported Hardware and Software Policy" or be specifically approved by the Director of Computer Services.

Software Piracy Policy

Dordt University does not condone or tolerate the unauthorized copying of licensed computer software by staff, faculty, or students. The unauthorized duplication of software or operation of software on machines other than for which it is licensed is a violation of federal law, and may expose the individual and the college to legal processes.

Consistent with norms for justice, caring, and trust, the college adheres to its contractual obligations and complies with all copyright laws. It expects each member of the college community to do the same. Anyone who violates this policy may be subject to discipline as outlined in the staff, faculty or student handbooks, and could face additional and possibly costly civil or criminal liability. If you have questions about whether particular activities are permissible or violate this policy, please contact your supervisor, or the Vice President for Information Services before proceeding.

External Legal Issues

All who use the Dordt University information system should respect the legal protection provided by copyright and licenses to owners of programs and data. File-sharing or copying files created by another person without obtaining that person's permission violates norms for justice, caring, and trust, and is therefore prohibited.
Plagiarism/Academic Dishonesty
Academic dishonesty can take many forms and the wide use of computers and electronic resources on campus raise some particularly important issues in that regard. In general, computer users who attempt to steal electronic content or gain more than their fair share of resources, in addition to violating norms for justice, caring and trust, may be subject to academic/professional discipline. It is therefore important to cite all quotes, references and sources as well as respect copyright and license agreements.

Electronic Mail Guidelines

Volumes of information have been written regarding email style guidelines, formatting preferences, user tips, etc. However, this document focuses on general email etiquette that helps facilitate a positive, Christ-honoring communication environment within the campus community. The following guidelines are most effective when respected by both the sender and receiver of campus email.

  • Never assume email messages are private or that only the sender or the recipient can read them. Do not send content that would compromise your integrity as the sender, or the integrity of the receiver if others viewed it.
  • Be caring and professional in what you say about others. Email is easily and often forwarded to many others beyond the original recipient.
  • Remember that the recipient is a person whose background, culture, language and humor are most likely different from your own. Also remember that email lacks the body language and voice inflection clues of face-to-face and telephone communication. Therefore consider your words carefully and avoid using language or humor that may be misinterpreted or considered offensive.
  • Be careful not to circulate unverified, inappropriate or gossip-based information via email.
  • Because email does not convey emotions or subtleties as effectively as face-to-face or telephone conversations, because it lacks vocal inflection, gestures, facial expressions and a shared environment, your correspondent may have difficulty interpreting the intended tone of your email. For this reason, sarcasm and humor are particularly risky to use in email.
  • Do not forward or post personal email messages that you have received to newsgroups or list-serves without the author's permission.
  • Leave unchanged the wording of any message you are forwarding or re-posting.
  • Avoid using email to send heated, personally critical or confrontational messages-commonly referred to as "flaming." It is wise not to say anything in an email that you would not respectfully say to a person face-to-face.
  • Be sure that any email message to which you respond was directed to you. You might have been "cc:ed" (copied in) rather than been the primary recipient.
  • Be careful when addressing email. In today's technological environment, there are addresses that may go to a group but the address looks like it is just one person. Know to whom you are sending.
  • Watch "cc:s" when replying. Do not continue to copy in people if the messages have become a private two-way conversation.
  • Do not send large amounts of unsolicited information to people. There is an abundance of amusing or inspirational stories, anecdotes, jokes, entertaining graphics, etc. which are circulated by email. Be respectful of coworkers' time and energy; do not assume they wish to receive this type of email on a regular basis. It is best to ask permission before adding someone to a distribution of this nature.

Organizational Communication Guidelines

According to the Guiding Principles for Information Services at Dordt University, "it is through communication that we share information and thereby work to fulfill the central task of Dordt University in training kingdom citizens. This task presupposes coherence and interrelatedness and is thus communal, as opposed to individual, in nature. At the core of communication is the norm of honesty, which is characterized by justice and caring."

Means of Organizational Communication
In addition to direct means of communication (person-to-person and via telephone), the college provides and expects all faculty, staff, and students to use these primary means of inter-office communication:
  • Campus Mail
  • Electronic mail
  • Voice mail
  • Internal college website (DCC)

Expected Response Time

All faculty, staff and students are encouraged, on a regular basis, to accept their mail communication (campus, electronic and voice) within a reasonable time period from the date of receipt. Under normal circumstances a "reasonable time period" would be defined as 1-2 working days. The term "accept" is defined as reading campus and email messages and listening to voice mail and responding if necessary.

Periodic circumstances (such as a vacation or an extended time off campus) may prevent a response within a normal time frame. During this time, faculty, staff and students are encouraged to make this known to those on campus who may try to contact them-i.e. by leaving a message on their voice mail, setting up, if necessary and appropriate, a vacation rule in their email (instructions for creating vacation rule), etc.

Compared to the college's mail systems, the website (DCC) is not a means to send information to community users. However it is a repository for important community information such as minutes, policies and procedures, and information about various programs and support services provided by the college. Therefore it is expected that all members of the college community will access the college's website on a regular and/or as-needed basis to seek the information they need.

Because persons and groups rely on the DCC website to find current and relevant information, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to post all academic department, division, task force, and committee minutes within 2 weeks of the date the meeting was held. The Faculty handbook states that the committee secretary is responsible for typing the minutes using the appropriate word processor and preparing the minutes for posting on the intranet, and that the office of the Vice President for Information Services shall provide (and keep up-to-date) the protocol for posting minutes on the intranet.

In addition, all faculty, staff and students are given a personal web page that is accessible from on-campus as well as off-campus. This web page can be used to post communications and other information that would not appropriately be send as a broadcast email message.

Use of Electronic Calendars
The process of scheduling inter-office meetings is also a form of campus communication. In order to facilitate an efficient and effective scheduling process, faculty, staff, and students are highly encouraged to use the Microsoft Office (Outlook) electronic calendar feature. Using this function avoids wasted time, inefficiency, and duplicated effort for other parties in the scheduling process. 

In addition to the above listed policies and guidelines, Dordt University encourages all members of the college community to become familiar with and abide by the specific college policies stated in applicable documents such as the Defender, Faculty Handbook, and Staff Handbook. Those policies with particular relevancy to the present document are:

  • Allocations and Use of Computer Resources
  • Audio/Video Streaming Policy and Guidelines
  • Computer Account Retention Policy
  • Dordt University Copyright Policy
  • Laptop Policy
  • World Wide Web Policy
  • This document has been approved by the Information Services Advisory Committee (25 February 2004) and by the Administrative Cabinet (10 March 2004).