The City University of New York – Computer Use Policy (revised 1/2/07)


RESOLVED, That the policy governing the acceptable use of computer resources owned, operated, or contracted by The City University of New York be adopted, effective February 1, 2007.


NOTE:  See Appendix 1


EXPLANATION:   The current CUNY statement on the use of computer resources, entitled “The City University of New York Computer User Responsibilities”, was last revised in 1995, before the use of e-mail and the Internet became commonplace modes of communication and information gathering.  That statement was not presented to the Board for approval.  The proposed policy is intended to address issues common to the various types and uses of current technology, particularly issues of privacy, confidentiality and security.  The new policy also clarifies CUNY's right of access to CUNY computer resources in certain situations, as well as the limitations on that right.  In addition, while the current statement prohibits all personal use of CUNY computer resources, the proposed policy permits incidental personal use under certain circumstances.  

Appendix I


The City University of New York

Policy on Acceptable Use of Computer Resources




CUNY’s computer resources are dedicated to the support of the university=s mission of education, research and public service.  In furtherance of this mission, CUNY respects, upholds and endeavors to safeguard the principles of academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry. 


CUNY recognizes that there is a concern among the university community that because information created, used, transmitted or stored in electronic form is by its nature susceptible to disclosure, invasion, loss, and similar risks, electronic communications and transactions will be particularly vulnerable to infringements of academic freedom.  CUNY’s commitment to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression includes electronic information. Therefore, whenever possible, CUNY will resolve doubts about the need to access CUNY computer resources in favor of a user's privacy interest.


However, the use of CUNY computer resources, including for electronic transactions and communications, like the use of other university-provided resources and activities, is subject to the requirements of legal and ethical behavior.  This policy is intended to support the free exchange of ideas among members of the CUNY community and between the CUNY community and other communities, while recognizing the responsibilities and limitations associated with such exchange.




This policy applies to all users of CUNY computer resources, whether affiliated with CUNY or not, and whether accessing those resources on a CUNY campus or remotely.


This policy supersedes the CUNY policy titled “CUNY Computer User Responsibilities” and any college policies that are inconsistent with this policy.   




“CUNY Computer resources” refers to all computer and information technology hardware, software, data, access and other resources owned, operated, or contracted by CUNY. This includes, but is not limited to, personal computers, handheld devices, workstations, mainframes, minicomputers, servers, network facilities, databases, memory, and associated peripherals and software, and the applications they support, such as e-mail and access to the internet. 


“E-mail” includes point-to-point messages, postings to newsgroups and listservs, and other electronic messages involving computers and computer networks. 

Rules for Use of CUNY Computer Resources


1.                  Authorization.  Users may not access a CUNY computer resource without authorization or use it for purposes beyond the scope of authorization.  This includes attempting to circumvent CUNY computer resource system protection facilities by hacking, cracking or similar activities, accessing or using another person’s computer account, and allowing another person to access or use the user’s account.  This provision shall not prevent a user from authorizing a colleague or clerical assistant to access information under the user’s account on the user’s behalf while away from a CUNY campus or because of a disability. CUNY computer resources may not be used to gain unauthorized access to another computer system within or outside of CUNY.  Users are responsible for all actions performed from their computer account that they permitted or failed to prevent by taking ordinary security precautions.   


2.                  Purpose.   Use of CUNY computer resources is limited to activities relating to the performance by CUNY employees of their duties and responsibilities.  For example, use of CUNY computer resources for private commercial or not-for-profit business purposes, for private advertising of products or services, or for any activity meant solely to foster personal gain, is prohibited.  Similarly, use of CUNY computer resources for partisan political activity is also prohibited. 


Except with respect to CUNY employees other than faculty, where a supervisor has prohibited it in writing, incidental personal use of computer resources is permitted so long as such use does not interfere with CUNY operations, does not compromise the functioning of CUNY computer resources, does not interfere with the user’s employment or other obligations to CUNY, and is otherwise in compliance with this policy.


3.                  Compliance with Law.  CUNY computer resources may not be used for any purpose or in any manner that violates CUNY rules, regulations or policies, or federal, state or local law.  Users who engage in electronic communications with persons in other states or countries or on other systems or networks may also be subject to the laws of those other states and countries, and the rules and policies of those other systems and networks.  Users are responsible for ascertaining, understanding, and complying with the laws, rules, policies, contracts, and licenses applicable to their particular use.


Examples of applicable federal and state laws include the laws of libel, obscenity and child pornography, as well as the following [add links]:


Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

Electronic Communications Privacy Act

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

New York State Freedom of Information Law

New York State Law with respect to the confidentiality of library records


Examples of applicable CUNY rules and policies include the following [add links]:


Sexual Harassment Policy

Policy on Maintenance of Public Order

Web Site Privacy Policy 

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Information Security Program

University Policy on Academic Integrity

Information Security policies


4.                  Licenses and Intellectual Property.  Users of CUNY computer resources may use only legally obtained, licensed data or software and must comply with applicable licenses or other contracts, as well as copyright, trademark and other intellectual property laws.


Much of what appears on the internet and/or is distributed via electronic communication is protected by copyright law, regardless of whether the copyright is expressly noted.  Users of CUNY computer resources should generally assume that material is copyrighted unless they know otherwise, and not copy, download or distribute copyrighted material without permission unless the use does not exceed fair use as defined by the federal Copyright Act of 1976.  Protected material may include, among other things, text, photographs, audio, video, graphic illustrations, and computer software.


5.                  False Identity and Harassment.  Users of CUNY computer resources may not employ a false identity, mask the identity of an account or computer, or use computer resources to engage in abuse of others, such as sending harassing, obscene, threatening, abusive, deceptive, or anonymous messages within or outside CUNY.             


6.                  Confidentiality.  Users of CUNY computer resources may not invade the privacy of others by, among other things, viewing, copying, modifying or destroying data or programs belonging to or containing personal or confidential information about others, without explicit permission to do so.  CUNY employees must take precautions to protect the confidentiality of personal or confidential information encountered in the performance of their duties or otherwise.


7.                  Integrity of Computer Resources.  Users may not install, use or develop programs intended to infiltrate or damage a computer resource, or which could reasonably be expected to cause, directly or indirectly, excessive strain on any computing facility.  This includes, but is not limited to, programs known as computer viruses, Trojan horses, and worms.  Users should consult with the IT director at their college before installing any programs that they are not sure are safe.

8.                  Disruptive Activities.  CUNY computer resources must not be used in a manner that could reasonably be expected to cause or does cause, directly or indirectly, unwarranted or unsolicited interference with the activity of other users.  This provision explicitly prohibits chain letters, virus hoaxes or other intentional e-mail transmissions that disrupt normal e-mail service.  Also prohibited are spamming, junk mail or other unsolicited mail that is not related to CUNY business and is sent without a reasonable expectation that the recipient would welcome receiving it, as well as the inclusion on e-mail lists of individuals who have not requested membership on the lists, other than the inclusion of members of the CUNY community on lists related to CUNY business.  CUNY has the right to require users of CUNY computer resources to limit or refrain from other specific uses if, in the opinion of the IT director at the user’s college, such use interferes with efficient operations of the system, subject to appeal to the President or, in the case of central office staff, to the Chancellor.


9.                  CUNY Names and Trademarks.  CUNY names, trademarks and logos belong to the university and are protected by law.  Users of CUNY computer resources may not state or imply that they speak on behalf of CUNY or use a CUNY name, trademark or logo without authorization to do so.  Affiliation with CUNY does not, by itself, imply authorization to speak on behalf of CUNY. 


10.              Security.  CUNY employs various measures to protect the security of its computer resources and of users’ accounts.  However, CUNY cannot guarantee such security.  Users are responsible for engaging in safe computing practices such as guarding and not sharing their passwords, changing passwords regularly, logging out of systems at the end of use, and protecting private information, as well as for following CUNY’s Information Security policies and procedures.  Users must report incidents of Information Security policy non-compliance or other security incidents to CUNY’s Chief Information Officer and Chief Information Security Officer, and the IT director at the affected user’s college.


11.              Filtering.  CUNY reserves the right to install spam, virus and spyware filters and similar devices if necessary in the judgment of CUNY’s Office of Information Technology or a college IT director to protect the security and integrity of CUNY computer resources.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, CUNY will not install filters that restrict access to e-mail, instant messaging, chat rooms or websites based solely on content.


12.              Confidential Research Information.  Principal investigators and others who use CUNY computer resources to store or transmit research information that is required by law or regulation to be held confidential or for which a promise of confidentiality has been given, are responsible for taking steps to protect confidential research information from unauthorized access or modification.  In general, this means storing the information on a computer that provides strong access controls (passwords) and encrypting files, documents, and messages for protection against inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure while in storage or in transit over data networks.  Robust encryption is strongly recommended for information stored electronically on all computers, especially portable devices such as notebook computers, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), and portable data storage (e.g., memory sticks) that are vulnerable to theft or loss, as well as for information transmitted over public networks.  Software and protocols used should be reviewed and approved by CUNY=s Office of Information Technology. 


13.              CUNY Access to Computer Resources.  


CUNY does not routinely monitor, inspect, or disclose individual usage of its computer resources without the user’s consent.  In most instances, if the university needs information located in a CUNY computer resource, it will simply request it from the author or custodian.  However, CUNY IT professionals and staff do regularly monitor general usage patterns as part of normal system operations and maintenance and might, in connection with these duties, observe the contents of web sites, e-mail or other electronic communications.  Except as provided in this policy or by law, these individuals are not permitted to seek out contents or transactional information, or disclose or otherwise use what they have observed.  Nevertheless, because of the inherent vulnerability of computer technology to unauthorized intrusions, users have no guarantee of privacy during any use of CUNY computer resources or in any data in them, whether or not a password or other entry identification or encryption is used.  Users may expect that the privacy of their electronic communications and of any materials contained in computer storage in any CUNY electronic device dedicated to their use will not be intruded upon by CUNY except as outlined in this policy.       


CUNY may specifically monitor or inspect the activity and accounts of individual users of CUNY computer resources, including individual login sessions, e-mail and other communications, without notice, in the following circumstances:


a.       when the user has voluntarily made them accessible to the public, as by posting to Usenet or a web page;


b.      when it is reasonably necessary to do so to protect the integrity, security, or functionality of CUNY or other computer resources, as determined by the college chief information officer or his or her designee, after consultation with CUNY’s chief information officer or his or her designee;


c.       when it is reasonably necessary to diagnose and resolve technical problems involving system hardware, software, or communications, as determined by the college chief information officer or his or her designee, after consultation with CUNY’s chief information officer or his or her designee; 


d.      when it is reasonably necessary to protect CUNY from liability, or when failure to act might result in significant bodily harm, significant property loss or damage, or loss of significant evidence, as determined by the college president or a vice president designated by the president, after consultation with the Office of General Counsel and the Chair of the University Faculty Senate (if a CUNY faculty member’s account or activity is involved) or Vice Chair if the Chair is unavailable;


e.       when there is a reasonable basis to believe that CUNY policy or federal, state or local law has been or is being violated, as determined by the college president or a vice president designated by the president, after consultation with the Office of General Counsel and the Chair of the University Faculty Senate (if a CUNY faculty member’s account or activity is involved) or Vice Chair if the Chair is unavailable;


f.        when an account appears to be engaged in unusual or unusually excessive activity, as indicated by the monitoring of general activity and usage patterns, as determined by the college president or a vice president designated by the president and the college chief information officer or his or her designee, after consultation with CUNY’s chief information officer or his or her designee, the Office of General Counsel, and the Chair of the University Faculty Senate (if a CUNY faculty member’s account or activity is involved) or Vice Chair if the Chair is unavailable; or


g.       as otherwise required by law.


In those situations in which the Chair of the University Faculty Senate is to be consulted prior to monitoring or inspecting an account or activity, the following procedures shall apply:  (i)  the college president shall report the completion of the monitoring or inspection to the Chair and the CUNY employee affected, who shall also be told the reason for the monitoring or inspection, except where specifically forbidden by law; and (ii) if the monitoring or inspection of an account or activity requires physical entry into a faculty member’s office, the faculty member shall be advised prior thereto and shall be permitted to be present to observe, except where specifically forbidden by law.


CUNY, in its discretion, may disclose the results of any general or individual monitoring or inspection to appropriate CUNY personnel or agents, or law enforcement or other agencies.  The results may be used in college disciplinary proceedings, discovery proceedings in legal actions, or otherwise as is necessary to protect the interests of the University.


In addition, users should be aware that CUNY may be required to disclose to the public under the New York State Freedom of Information Law communications made by means of CUNY computer resources in conjunction with University business.

Any disclosures of activity of accounts of individual users to persons or entities outside of CUNY, whether discretionary or required by law, shall be approved by the General Counsel and shall be conducted in accordance with any applicable law.  Except where specifically forbidden by law, CUNY employees subject to such disclosures shall be informed promptly after the disclosure of the actions taken and the reasons for them. 


The Office of General Counsel shall issue an annual statement of the instances of account monitoring or inspection that fall within categories d through g above.  The statement shall indicate the number of such instances and the cause and result of each.  No personally identifiable data shall be included in this statement.  


See CUNY=s Web Site Privacy Policy [add link] for additional information regarding data collected by CUNY from visitors to the CUNY website at


14.              Enforcement.  Violation of this policy may result in suspension or termination of an individual=s right of access to CUNY computer resources, disciplinary action by appropriate CUNY authorities, referral to law enforcement authorities for criminal prosecution, or other legal action, including action to recover civil damages and penalties.


Violations will normally be handled through the university disciplinary procedures applicable to the relevant user.  For example, alleged violations by students will normally be investigated, and any penalties or other discipline will normally be imposed, by the Office of Student Affairs. 


CUNY has the right to temporarily suspend computer use privileges and to remove from CUNY computer resources material it believes violates this policy, pending the outcome of an investigation of misuse or finding of violation.  This power may be exercised only by the President of each college or the Chancellor. 


15.              Additional Rules.  Additional rules, policies, guidelines and/or restrictions may be in effect for specific computers, systems, or networks, or at specific computer facilities at the discretion of the directors of those facilities.  Any such rules which potentially limit the privacy or confidentiality of electronic communications or information contained in or delivered by or over CUNY computer resources will be subject to the substantive and procedural safeguards provided by this policy.


16.              Disclaimer.  CUNY shall not be responsible for any damages, costs or other liabilities of any nature whatsoever with regard to the use of CUNY computer resources.  This includes, but is not limited to, damages caused by unauthorized access to CUNY computer resources, data loss, or other damages resulting from delays, non-deliveries, or service interruptions, whether or not resulting from circumstances under the CUNY=s control.

Users receive and use information obtained through CUNY computer resources at their own risk. CUNY makes no warranties (expressed or implied) with respect to the use of CUNY computer resources.  CUNY accepts no responsibility for the content of web pages or graphics that are linked from CUNY web pages, for any advice or information received by a user through use of CUNY computer resources, or for any costs or charges incurred by a user as a result of seeking or accepting such advice or information.


CUNY reserves the right to change this policy and other related policies at any time.  CUNY reserves any rights and remedies that it may have under any applicable law, rule or regulation.  Nothing contained in this policy will in any way act as a waiver of such rights and remedies.


The City University of New York – Student Complaint Procedure:


RESOLVED, That the procedures for handling student complaints about faculty conduct in formal academic settings be adopted, effective December 1, 2006. 


NOTE:  See Appendix 1


EXPLANATION:  Although the University and its Colleges have a variety of procedures for dealing with student-related issues, those procedures generally have not covered student complaints about faculty conduct in the classroom or other formal academic settings.  The University respects the academic freedom of the faculty and does not intend to interfere with faculty members’ appropriate exercise of discretion concerning the content or style of their teaching.  At the same time, however, the University recognizes its responsibility to establish procedures for addressing student complaints about faculty conduct that is not protected by academic freedom and not addressed in other procedures.  The proposed procedures will accomplish this goal. 






I.                    Introduction.  The University and its Colleges have a variety of procedures for dealing with student-related issues, including grade appeals, academic integrity violations, student discipline, disclosure of student records, student elections, sexual harassment complaints, disability accommodations, and discrimination.  One area not generally covered by other procedures concerns student complaints about faculty conduct in the classroom or other formal academic settings.  The University respects the academic freedom of the faculty and will not interfere with the exercise of appropriate discretion concerning the content or style of teaching activities.  Indeed, academic freedom is and should be of paramount importance.  At the same time the University recognizes its responsibility to provide students with a procedure for addressing complaints about faculty treatment of students that are not protected by academic freedom and are not covered by other procedures.


II.                             Determination of Appropriate Procedure.  If students have any question about the applicable procedure to follow for a particular complaint, they should consult with the chief student affairs officer.  In particular, the chief student affairs officer should advise a student if some other procedure is applicable to the type of complaint the student has.


III.                           Informal Resolution.  Students are encouraged to attempt to resolve complaints informally with the faculty member or to seek the assistance of the department chairperson or campus ombudsman to facilitate informal resolution. 


IV.                          Formal Complaint.  If the student does not pursue informal resolution, or if informal resolution is unsuccessful, the student may file a written complaint with the department chairperson or, if the chairperson is the subject of the complaint, with the academic dean or other person designated by the college president. (This person will be referred to below as the “Fact Finder.”)


A.        The complaint shall be filed within 30 calendar days of the alleged conduct unless there is good cause shown for delay, including but not limited to delay caused by an attempt at informal resolution.  The complaint shall be as specific as possible in describing the conduct complained of. 


B.         The Fact Finder shall promptly send a copy to the faculty member about whom the complaint is made, along with a letter stating that the filing of the complaint does not imply that any wrongdoing has occurred and that a faculty member must not retaliate in any way against a student for having made a complaint. 


C.        The Fact Finder shall meet with the complaining student and faculty member, either separately or together, to discuss the complaint and to try to resolve it.  If resolution is not possible, and there are factual issues in dispute, an investigation shall be conducted.  The Fact Finder shall separately interview the complaining student, the faculty member and other persons with relevant knowledge and information and shall also consult with the chief student affairs officer and, if appropriate, the college ombudsman.  The Fact Finder shall not reveal the identity of the complaining student and the faculty member to others except to the extent necessary to conduct the investigation.  If the Fact Finder believes it would be helpful, he or she may meet again with the student and faculty member after completing the investigation in an effort to resolve the matter.  The complaining student and the faculty member shall have the right to have a representative (including a union representative, student government representative or attorney) present during the initial meeting, the interview and any post-investigation meeting. 


D.        At the end of the investigation, the Fact Finder shall issue a written report setting forth his or her findings and recommendations and send a copy to the complaining student, the faculty member, the chief academic officer and the chief student affairs officer.  In ordinary cases, it is expected that the investigation and written report should be completed within 30 calendar days of the date the complaint was filed. 


V.        Appeals Procedure.  If either the student or the faculty member is not satisfied with the report of the Fact Finder, the student or faculty member may file a written appeal to the chief academic officer within 10 calendar days of receiving the report.  The chief academic officer shall convene and serve as the chairperson of a committee, which shall also include the chief student affairs officer, two faculty members elected annually by the faculty council or senate and one student elected annually by the student senate.  The committee shall review the findings and recommendations of the report, with particular focus on whether the conduct in question is protected by academic freedom.  The committee shall not conduct a new factual investigation or overturn any factual findings contained in the report unless they are clearly erroneous.  The committee shall issue a written decision within 20 calendar days of receiving the appeal.  A copy of the decision shall be sent to the student, the faculty member, the department chairperson and the president.


VI.       Subsequent Action.  Following the completion of these procedures, the appropriate college official shall decide the appropriate action, if any, to take.  For example, the department chairperson may decide to place a report in the faculty member’s personnel file or the president may bring disciplinary charges against the faculty member.  Disciplinary charges may also be brought in extremely serious cases even though the college has not completed the entire investigative process described above; in that case, the bringing of disciplinary charges shall automatically suspend that process.  Any action taken by a college must comply with the bylaws of the University and the collective bargaining agreement between the University and the Professional Staff Congress.


VII.      Campus Implementation.  Each campus shall implement these procedures and shall distribute them widely to administrators, faculty members and students and post them on the college website. 


VIII.     Board Review.  During the spring 2009 semester, the Chancellery will conduct a review of the experience of the colleges with these procedures and will report the results of that review to the Board of Trustees, along with any recommended changes.