Larger colleges and universities now maintain vast IT infrastructure and networks with large data security concerns. Ohio State University recently approved an $18.6 million wireless upgrade. The University of Michigan just completed a $24.5 million network expansion project. Students on campuses have high expectations for Wi-Fi performance and schools have an expanding base of students attending exclusively online. Administrations now have policies and guidelines that students may face disciplinary actions for violations such as inappropriate internet usage and unauthorized access.
Guidelines prohibit distributing copyrighted material such as software, textbooks or music. Licenses for software procured by the institution are only for education or internal operational purposes. Students must respect the privacy and rights of intellectual property. University email accounts may not be used to make statements or opinions that appear as being on the college's behalf.
Inappropriate or Unlawful Material
Although colleges strive to preserve the right to free speech--there are limitations. These include activities viewed as inconsistent with the institution's values. Examples include posting or distributing material deemed obscene, pornographic, sexist, racist, etc. Using any technology resources to harass someone or involving child pornography are other obvious violations.
Email-related violations include sending solicitations considered to be “spam” or forwarding “chain letters”. Others include using email for lobbying efforts, political campaigns or for private commercial purposes.
School Record Alteration
Education Week recently reported that unauthorized access to student data is a widespread problem. Many of these intrusions were to alter student grades. Schools prohibit attempting to locate vulnerabilities in their networks, monitoring the activity of others or trying to access passwords.
University Investigation of Allegations
When schools receive allegations or evidence of student violations they investigate according to their procedures. University of Kentucky school officials may access the individual's email, internet history, and data files to prevent the potential deletion of key information.
Potential Sanctions & Penalties
Here are examples of sanctions at several universities.
- Villanova: Network and internet access may be blocked; disciplinary sanctions determined by the Judicial Affairs office.
- Penn State: May restrict or terminate network access and consider suspension or expulsion.
- University of Kentucky: Network access may be revoked with monetary penalties and/or possible suspension. Student may have to reimburse the school for the costs of investigating and proving the violations.
Would You Benefit From Legal Counsel?
Administrators seek to maintain the institution's honor code and reputation for academic integrity. Having assistance from an attorney that is familiar with the student disciplinary process is a tremendous benefit. You will be better prepared for making statements and responding to questions in disciplinary hearings that support your defense. Having a legal adviser is also critical if entering the appeals process.
Attorney for Students Accused of Academic Misconduct
College administrators and disciplinary committees may rush to judgment and fail to properly consider the rights of students amid allegations of wrongdoing. Attorney Joseph D. Lento assists students facing potentially harsh sanctions and penalties for academic misconduct. Contact the office at (888) 535-3686 today.