Electronic Communications Responsible Use Rules

Sonoma State University encourages the responsible use of electronic communications to share information and knowledge in support of the University's mission of education, research, community service, and to conduct the University's business. To these ends, SSU supports and provides electronic communications resources such as computers, networks, airspace, video and audio equipment, telecommunications devices, email, and the World Wide Web.


These rules apply to any user of the University's electronic communications resources whether initiated from a computer located on- or off-campus.   These rules apply to the use of all Sonoma State University electronic communication resources whether centrally-administered or locally-administered.   All users are responsible for reading and understanding these rules.

Rights and Responsibilities

Sonoma State University is the legal owner and operator of all electronic communications resources purchased or leased with University funds. Overall responsibility and authority for administering the University's electronic communications resources is primarily that of the Chief Information Officer.

The Chief Information Officer may delegate responsibility for administering certain resources.   Other organizations such as school districts, Chancellor's Office entities, and enterprise units that operate resources that are accessible via the Sonoma State University network may have their own rules governing the use of those resources. When accessing remote resources through Sonoma State University facilities, users are responsible for following the rules of SSU and the remote facility, whichever is more restrictive.

Enforcement of Laws and University Policies

All existing laws (federal and state) and State of California, California State University and Sonoma State University regulations and policies apply, including not only laws and regulations that are specific to computers and networks, but also those that may apply generally to personal conduct.   This may also include laws of other states and countries where material is accessed electronically via Sonoma State University resources by users within those jurisdictions or material originating within those jurisdictions that is accessed via University resources.

Sonoma State University reserves the right to limit access to its electronic communication resources when policies or laws are violated, and to use appropriate means to safeguard its resources, preserve network/system integrity, and ensure continued service delivery at all times.   This includes monitoring routing information of communications across its airspace and network services, as well as data residing on Sonoma State University resources; scanning systems attached to the University network for security problems; disconnecting systems that have become a security hazard or negatively impact the performance of the network; restricting the material transported across the network or posted on University systems; and specifying the plan of action that will be undertaken by users of electronic communication resources to mitigate security risks.

Violations may result in the temporary or permanent loss of access privileges or the modification of those privileges. Violators may be subject to disciplinary action including dismissal or expulsion under applicable University policies and collective bargaining agreements.  

Electronic Communication Resource Integrity

Activities and behaviors that threaten the integrity of Sonoma State University's electronic communications resources are prohibited on both University-owned and privately owned equipment operated on or through the University's resources.   These activities and behaviors include, but are not limited to:

  1. Unlawful activities. Users shall not use electronic communications resources for unlawful activities or activities that violate University policy, including fraudulent, libelous, slanderous, harassing, threatening communications.
  2. Encroaching on others' access and use. Users shall not encroach on others' access and use of the University's electronic communications resources. This includes, but is not limited to:
    1. Mass messaging. Users shall avoid spamming, and other inappropriate mass messaging or chain letters to newsgroups, bulletin boards, mailing lists, or individuals. Subscribers to an electronic mailing list will be viewed as having solicited any material delivered by the list so long as the material is consistent with the list's purpose.
    2. Unauthorized modification of electronic communications resources
    3. Attempting to crash or tie up electronic communications resources.
  3. Copyright. Federal copyright law applies to all forms of information including electronic communications.   Violations are prohibited under these rules. Infringements of copyright laws include, but are not limited to, making unauthorized copies of any copyright material (e.g. software, text, images, audio, and video), and displaying or distributing copyrighted materials over networks without the copyright holder's permission except as provided by fair use. The University will not tolerate theft of intellectual property in any form.
  4. Unauthorized equipment. Users shall not install or attach any equipment to an SSU electronic communications resource without the explicit approval of the Information Technology Director for that electronic communications resource.
  5. Modification, damage, or removal. Users shall not modify, damage, or remove electronic communications resources that are owned by the University or other users without proper authorization.
  6. Unauthorized or destructive programs. Users shall not use unauthorized programs such as, but not limited to, viruses, backdoors, logic bombs, Trojan horses, bacteria, and worms to disrupt other users, access private or restricted portions of the system, identify security vulnerabilities, decrypt secure data, or damage the software or hardware components of an electronic communications resource. .
  7. Information belonging to others. Users shall not intentionally seek or provide information on, obtain copies of, or modify data files, programs, or passwords belonging to other users without the permission of those other users.
  8. False identity. Users shall not use the identity of another user without the explicit approval of that user, or mask the identity of an account or machine.
  9. Password protection. A user who has been authorized to use a password-protected account shall not disclose the password or otherwise make the account available to others without authorization.
  10. Authorization. Users shall not access electronic communications resources without proper authorization, or intentionally enable others to do so.
  11. Personal use. University users may use electronic communications resources for incidental non-private personal purposes provided that such use does not:
    1. Directly or indirectly interfere with the University's operation of electronic communications resources
    2. Interfere with the user's employment or other obligations to the University
    3. Burden the University with noticeable incremental costs
    4. Violate the law or University policy.
  12. Commercial use and advertisements. University electronic communications resources shall not be used for non-University commercial purposes, except as permitted under University policy or with the appropriate approval.   This includes soliciting, promoting, selling, marketing, or advertising products or services, or reselling University resources.
  13. Registering a Sonoma State University Internet Protocol (IP) address with any other domain name.

Reporting Irresponsible or Inappropriate Use

If an individual's health or safety seems to be in jeopardy or a violation of the law may be involved, contact Sonoma State University Public Safety.

Suspected infractions of these rules should be reported to the Chief Information Officer or Information Security Officer.