Regulations Concerning the Use of University Resources

Membership in the University affords students access to a wide array of resources including among others one of the world’s greatest libraries, extensive computing and network facilities, laboratories, and works of art and architecture of immeasurable value. Access to these resources makes time at Harvard a special privilege, and students have both rights and responsibilities regarding their use. To safeguard the integrity of such resources, the University relies on its students to use them with care, appropriately, and as authorized; to respect the rights of others who also have access; and to observe the rules granting access to, and use of, those resources. Failure to abide by the rules governing their use ordinarily will result in disciplinary action.

Libraries and Library Books

The heart of the University is its library: the store of knowledge around which its functions are organized. The books in Harvard’s libraries constitute some of its most valuable assets, and it is essential that all members of the community have reasonable access to them. A student who violates the use and lending policies of any library may be subject to disciplinary action. In particular, removal of a book from any library without authorization or the mutilation, defacement, or abuse of any library book or library resource will result in disciplinary action, ordinarily a requirement to withdraw from the College (see also Responsibilities of Library Users).

Use of Computers and Networks

Students who are provided access to University computer facilities and to the campus-wide communication network assume responsibility for their appropriate use. The University expects students to be careful, honest, responsible, and civil in the use of computers and networks. Those who use wide-area networks (such as the Internet) to communicate with individuals or to connect to computers at other institutions are expected to abide by the rules for the remote systems and networks as well as those for Harvard’s systems.

Be advised that, in addition to violating College rules, certain computer misconduct is prohibited by federal and state law and is, therefore, subject to criminal and civil penalties. Such misconduct includes knowingly gaining unauthorized access to a computer system or database; falsely obtaining electronic services or data without payment of required charges; intentionally intercepting electronic communications; and obtaining, altering, or destroying others’ electronic information. Similarly, serious legal penalties may result from the use of Harvard’s computers or network to violate copyright laws, as is possible with the use of peer-to-peer filesharing programs. Moreover, a student may be held responsible for misuse that occurs by allowing a third party access to the student’s own computer, account, or network connection.

The basic rules for the appropriate use of computers and networks are outlined below. Other policies may be found at Computer Rules and Responsibilities on the FAS Information Technology Website. Students are expected to abide by these rules and policies and to consult an official of FAS Information Technology prior to any activity that would appear to threaten the security or performance of University computers and networks. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.

Use of Facilities

Computer and network facilities are provided to students primarily for their educational use. These facilities have tangible value. Consequently, attempts to circumvent accounting systems or to use the computer accounts of others will be treated as forms of attempted theft.

Students may not attempt to damage or to degrade the performance of Harvard’s computers and networks and should not disrupt the work of other users. Students may not attempt to circumvent security systems, or to exploit or probe for security holes in any Harvard network or system, nor may students attempt any such activity against other systems accessed through Harvard’s facilities. Execution or compilation of programs designed to breach system security is prohibited unless authorized in advance. Students assume personal responsibility for the use of their accounts. Consequently, students may not disclose their passwords or otherwise make Harvard’s facilities available to unauthorized individuals (including family or friends). Moreover, the possession or collection of others’ passwords, PINs, private digital certificates, or other secure identification information is prohibited. Use of Harvard’s computers and networks for business-related purposes without authorization by the Harvard College Business Advisory Committee is prohibited.

Privacy of Information

Information stored on a computer system or sent electronically over a network is the property of the individual who created it. Examination, collection, or dissemination of that information without authorization from the owner is a violation of the owner’s rights to control his or her own property. Systems administrators, however, may gain access to users’ data or programs when it is necessary to maintain or prevent damage to systems or to ensure compliance with other University rules. Such access will be limited to those staff with a direct job role in maintaining the availability of the FAS computing environment, and at no time will result in student personal information being copied or disclosed to any other person.

Computer systems and networks provide mechanisms for the protection of private information from examination. These mechanisms are necessarily imperfect and any attempt to circumvent them or to gain unauthorized access to private information (including both stored computer files and messages transmitted over a network) will be treated as a violation of privacy and will be cause for disciplinary action.

In general, information that the owner would reasonably regard as private must be treated as private by other users. Examples include the contents of electronic mail boxes, the private file storage areas of individual users, and information stored in other areas that are not public. That measures have not been taken to protect such information does not make it permissible for others to inspect it.

On shared and networked computer systems certain information about users and their activities is visible to others. Users are cautioned that certain accounting and directory information (for example, user names and electronic mail addresses), certain records of file names and executed commands, and information stored in public areas, are not private. Nonetheless, such unsecured information about other users must not be manipulated in ways that they might reasonably find intrusive; for example, eavesdropping by computer and systematic monitoring of the behavior of others are likely to be considered invasions of privacy that would be cause for disciplinary action. The compilation or redistribution of information from University directories (printed or electronic) is forbidden. For further explanation and details, see Computer Rules and Responsibilities.

Electronic Communication

Harvard neither sanctions nor censors individual expression of opinion on its systems. The same standards of behavior, however, are expected in the use of electronic mail as in the use of telephones and written and oral communication. Therefore, electronic mail, like telephone messages, must be neither obscene nor harassing (see Harassment and Obscene or Harassing Telephone Calls). Similarly, messages must not misrepresent the identity of the sender and should not be sent as chain letters or "broadcast" indiscriminately to large numbers of individuals. This prohibition includes unauthorized mass electronic mailings. For example, email on a given topic that is sent to large numbers of recipients should in general be directed only to those who have indicated a willingness to receive such email.

Intellectual Property and Copyrighted Materials

Computer programs written as part of one's academic work should be regarded as literary creations and subject to the same standards of misrepresentation as copied work (see Plagiarism and Collaboration). In addition, attempts to duplicate, use, or distribute software or other data without authorization by the owner is prohibited.

All Harvard users must respect the copyrights in works that are accessible through computers connected to the Harvard network. Federal copyright law prohibits the reproduction, distribution, public display, or public performance of copyrighted materials without permission of the copyright owner, unless fair use or another exemption under copyright law applies. In appropriate circumstances, Harvard will terminate the network access of users who are found to have repeatedly infringed the copyrights of others.

Information about the application of copyright law to peer-to-peer file sharing of music, movies and other copyrighted works is available at Students with questions about copyright or this policy are invited to raise those questions with an appropriate dean, tutor or academic officer.

Harvard University Identification Cards

All students receive a Harvard University Identification Card.  ID Cards are the property of Harvard University and are intended for University purposes only. The cards are required for admission to most Harvard activities and facilities including libraries, museums, dining halls, athletic buildings, and student residences. Some facilities may also require a sticker for entry. The front of the card and the magnetic stripes on the back, however, must be kept free from stickers.

First-term students are encouraged to submit an ID Card photo using Harvard University’s ID Card Photo Submission Web Application. If a photo is successfully submitted, the Student ID card will be printed.  When the first-term students arrive on campus, they must bring government-issued identifications to facilitate photo and identity validation before they can receive their Harvard ID Cards. If a photo is not successfully submitted using the ID Card Photo Submission Application, students will receive instructions from their school when and where they will have an opportunity to have their ID Card Photo taken on campus, as well as when they can receive their Student ID Card.

Every student will keep their ID Card while they are enrolled at Harvard University and is responsible for his or her ID Card and the consequences of its misuse. ID cards are not transferable; a student may not allow any other person to use his or her ID card for any purpose. A student who alters or falsifies his or her ID card or produces or distributes false identification cards of any kind is subject to disciplinary action. Lost cards should be reported immediately to Harvard University ID Services Office, Holyoke Center 953. There is a replacement fee of $20 for the first and second losses; a fee of $40 is charged for the third and subsequent losses.

Students must present their ID Card or otherwise identify themselves upon request to any properly identified employee of the University. Surrendered ID Cards will be transmitted immediately to the student’s Resident Dean or other appropriate Dean.