IT Acceptable Use Policy | Webster University

IT Acceptable Use Policy


Webster University ("Webster") provides numerous information technology resources for use by the Webster community to support its educational mission. The use of these resources must be consistent with the goals of the University. This policy applies to all University students, staff, administrators, faculty and others granted use of Webster University’s computer network resources. As a member of the Webster community, Webster students, staff, administrators and faculty are expected to act responsibly and to follow Webster's guidelines, policies, and procedures in utilizing information technology and electronic networks accessed by such technology.

We encourage members of the Webster community to use Webster’s information technology resources and online networks for Webster University educational and business purposes under the appropriate circumstances. However, in order to protect our rights and the rights of others, certain rules must be followed.


For purposes of this policy the following definitions shall apply:

Electronic Communications shall mean and include the use of information systems in communicating or posting information or material by way of messages, email, bulletin boards, the Internet, World Wide Web, or other such tools.

Information technology resources include computers, computer services, servers, and similar devices provided or administered by Webster and for which Webster is responsible. Information technology resources also include access to Webster’s on-campus network, the Internet, World Wide Web and other online computer networks.

Networks shall mean and include video, voice and data networks, routers and storage devices.

Users shall mean all Webster students, staff, administrators, faculty or others who utilize Webster’s information technology resources and networks.

Approved Webster University devices shall mean computers, mobile devices and any other Webster University technology assets purchased by the information technology department and/or the University.

Other shall include Webster guests and/or those who may use Webster University facilities for a specific event or period of time and are given specific technology access.

Access and use

The following guidelines apply to all Users:

  • Access to some of Webster’s information technology resources requires that each User have a unique identity, protected by a password. A computer identity represents the User in various system activities, to provide access to software and data, and to associate the User's own software and data with the identity. As such, this computer identity is a University instrument of identification, and its misuse constitutes forgery or misrepresentation and is subject to University disciplinary action.
  • No Webster system is to be used for any illegal or criminal purpose.
  • Sensitive or University data, passwords and personally identified information should not be saved to personally owned computers, mobile data devices or on internet-cloud based services.
  • Unauthorized attempts to gain access to any account not belonging to the User on any Webster system are prohibited.
  • Unauthorized access to restricted databases is prohibited.
  • Webster understands that Users may want to download or install certain software onto approved Webster University devices to facilitate the User’s ability to communicate or to perform his or her duties and responsibilities. In order to protect Webster’s information technology resources, networks and devices, Webster must ensure that software downloaded or installed onto approved Webster University devices is safe, compatible and appropriate for use. For this reason, Users must not knowingly download or install software onto approved Webster University devices unless allowed under applicable procedures or prior authorization has been received from the Office of the Chief Information Officer or designee. Users may complete the Request for Non-Standard Software and submit it to the Office of the Chief Information Officer.
  • If a User learns of a potential breach in the security of Webster’s information technology resources, the User must report the potential security breach to Webster’s system administrators. Password sharing is prohibited. Users shall be held responsible for choosing safe passwords, ensuring file protections are set correctly, and for all use of accounts and User-ids assigned to them.
  • Using Webster’s information technology resources to post or transmit sexually explicit images or any other content deemed to be offensive and inappropriate for academic use is prohibited. In addition, viewing, posting or transmitting sexually explicit material or any other content deemed to be offensive and inappropriate for academic use may constitute a violation of the Webster's Policy on Sexual Assault, Harassment and Other Offenses as discussed in the Civility and Liberty section below.

Civility and liberty

Webster seeks to protect the civil, personal, and property rights of those properly using its information technology resources and seeks to protect the confidentiality of Webster’s records stored electronically. Conduct which involves use of Webster’s information technology resources to violate another's rights is subject to disciplinary action.

As an academic institution, we are committed to supporting the academic freedom of all members of the Webster community; as a social institution, we are committed to respecting the dignity of all members of our community. The standards and principles of intellectual and academic freedom developed for university libraries apply to material received via computer news networks and by similar means. The standards of intellectual and academic freedom developed for faculty and student publication in traditional media apply to computer-generated publication.

There will be situations in which what one person understands to be free expression another person takes to be harassment, personal assault, or an assault on prevailing standards of decency. The Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression at Yale University (January 8, 1975), states:

Shock, hurt, and anger are not consequences to be weighed lightly. No member of a community with a decent respect for others should use, or encourage others to use, slurs and epithets intended to discredit another's race, ethnic group, religion, or sex. It may sometimes be necessary in a university for civility and mutual respect to be superseded by the need to guarantee free expression.

The values superseded are nevertheless important, and every member of the university community should consider them in exercising the fundamental right to free expression. We have considered the opposing argument that behavior which violates these social and ethical considerations should be made subject to formal sanctions, and the argument that such behavior entitles others to prevent speech they might regard as offensive. Our conviction that the central purpose of the university is to foster the free access of knowledge compels us to reject both of these arguments. They assert a right to prevent free expression. They rest upon the assumption that speech can be suppressed by anyone who deems it false or offensive...They make the majority, or any willful minority, the arbiters of truth for all. If expression may be prevented, censored, or punished, because of its content or because of the motives attributed to those who promote it, then it is no longer free. It will be subordinated to other values that we believe to be of lower priority in a university.

The conclusions that we draw, then, are these: even when some members of the university community fail to meet their social and ethical responsibilities, the paramount obligation of the university is to protect their right to free expression...If a university's overriding commitment to free expression is to be sustained, secondary social and ethical responsibilities must be left to the informal processes of suasion, example, and argument.

Just as nothing in the present policy is to be understood as excusing Users from compliance with federal or state law, nothing in this policy should be understood as withdrawing Webster’s affirmation of statements in faculty and student policy handbooks in support of academic and intellectual freedom.

None of this, though, denies that harassment on the basis of sex is a violation of Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and is also prohibited under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Webster's Policy on Sexual Assault, Harassment and Other Offenses defines sexual harassment as:

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when 1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or a condition of an individual's employment or education or 2) submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment or academic decisions affecting that individual or 3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational or employment environment.

Webster expects that Users will respect the rights of others to freedom from harassment or intimidation. A User may violate this policy if he or she transmits or posts abusive or unwanted material causing the work or academic experience of others to be disrupted. In addition, a User violates this policy and may violate the law if he or she targets another person, group or organization to cause distress, embarrassment, injury, unwanted attention or other substantial discomfort, Webster’s sexual harassment policy prohibits Users from displaying sexually graphic materials that may interfere with the work or academic pursuits of members of the Webster community. Due to the public nature and/or location of some of Webster’s computers, viewing and/or distributing sexually graphic or offensive materials may be a violation of University policy. Webster’s information technology resources and systems are Webster property. Webster may override individual passwords and access electronic communications transmitted via its information technology resources and systems at any time.

Electronic communications, instant messages, or other information on Webster’s computers and email systems are not private or confidential. Webster retains the right to retrieve, read and publish any information or message in its information technology resources and email systems. Deletion of electronic communications and information by individuals does not necessarily remove such messages form the system and, in some cases, deleted information and emails may still be accessed after deletion by an individual user. Accordingly, the use of Webster’s information technology resources and systems should be prudent and consistent with the work and academic pursuits of Webster.

In the course of a legal matter and/or security incident investigation, the university reserves the right to inspect a personally owned computing device that accesses or maintains sensitive university data.

The University is not responsible for unofficial uses of computer resources. In particular, electronic communications, email and personal Web pages often express private opinions which do not reflect University positions.


University computing and information resources are made available to individuals to assist in the pursuit of educational and other academic goals. It is expected that users will cooperate with each other and respect the ownership of work and information even though it is in electronic-- rather than more immediately tangible--form. Individuals and organizations will be held no less accountable for their actions in situations involving computers and information resources than they would be in dealing with other media. Rules prohibiting theft and vandalism apply to software and data as well as to physical equipment. In particular:

  • Webster’s information technology resources and networks shall not be used to gain unauthorized access to any computer, computer service, server or similar device, network, website or storage device.
  • The purchase and/or installation of hardware, software and/or related devices connected to Webster University technology environment is specifically prohibited.
  • No one shall alter or delete software, hardware, communications, or data belonging to someone else without authorization.
  • Users may not browse, access, copy, or change files that do not belong to that User without authorization. Users may not attempt to modify the computer system or software in any unauthorized manner.
  • Use of Webster systems for non-Webster purposes, such as running an independent business, or volunteer work for some other organization, absent written authorization, may constitute theft of computer time. Activities by students related to their coursework or to the work of chartered student organizations, and by faculty or staff related to their contractual obligations are explicitly authorized by this policy.
  • Users must adhere to posted lab and system policies, procedures, or protocols, such as time or storage limits, where those policies, procedures, or protocols are consistent with this policy. Refusal may constitute failure to comply as defined in the Code of Student Conduct.
  • The use of invasive software or malicious code that is destructive to Webster’s information technology resources and/or non-Webster computer systems, is prohibited.
  • Copyrighted software must only be used in accordance with its license or purchase agreement. Users are prohibited from using or making unauthorized copies of software. For further information, please see Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998) and the University’s Fair Use policy.
  • Using Webster’s information technology resources to damage or disrupt, or to attempt to damage or disrupt the operation of computer equipment, data communications equipment, or data communications lines is prohibited.
  • Gratuitous consumption of system resources (disk space, CPU time, bandwidth) is prohibited.
  • Users must notify Webster University of any theft or loss of a personally owned computing device containing data or software application licenses belonging to Webster University. User must cooperate with Webster University and its efforts to retrieve or protect any Webster University data or software on such personally owned computing device(s).


Alleged violations of this policy could be subject to disciplinary action including, but not limited to, reprimand, dischagre, denial or access privileges, probations, academic expulsion and/or legal action.