Electronic Information Policy

The following policy applies to all users of computer and communication systems at Buena Vista University.


To establish an electronic information policy that addresses the use of electronic information in a manner that benefits the campus community. More specifically, the purpose is to establish an umbrella policy with regard to electronic information that balances the university's legal responsibilities against the user's reasonable right to privacy. Because faculty, staff, and students are strongly encouraged to use technology in the learning process, users should be assured a reasonable right to privacy. On the other hand, because the law with regard to the Internet and computer usage in general is still developing, the University has a legitimate interest in protecting the campus community and itself against legal claims.


Buena Vista University strives to provide all computer users with privacy and a fair share of technical resources. The university also maintains its strong commitment to academic freedom and to creating an environment that fosters trust and respect amongst the campus community. Buena Vista University has an obligation to respect the privacy of a user's file, electronic mail, and other electronic information. These same principles apply to the use of computing and telecommunication resources. In turn, all computer users have the responsibility to use Buena Vista University's computer resources in an efficient, ethical, and lawful manner consistent with the rules and regulations of the university. The ethical and legal standards that all users should maintain are derived directly from standards of common decency that apply to any public resource within the University and/or existing local, state, or federal statutes.

  1. Users must abide by all software licenses, copyright and intellectual property policies and applicable local, state, and/or federal laws.
  2. Electronic communication is not to be used for the transmission of any information that violates existing local, state, and/or federal laws.
  3. Files controlled by individual users are considered private. Any non-file owner must obtain written permission from the owner to read, alter, or copy a file. The ability to read, alter, or copy a file does not imply permission to read, alter, or copy that file. This policy is not meant to restrict the computer center from its role of supervising the normal operations of the computing/communications systems, such as the restoring of backups or examining faulty computer behavior.
  4. The President may only read and/or copy a file:
    1. when ordered to do so by a court-ordered subpoena.
    2. when he/she has probable cause to believe that communication or computing systems have been compromised.
    3. when the issue involves possible local, state, and/or federal law violations.
  5. The university recognizes the right of the campus community to use electronic mail for personal and professional reasons. However, the electronic communication facilities are not to be used for non-academic commercial endeavors without the permission of the university.
  6. Examining information, such as electronic mail or voice mail of others, for reasons not associated with authorized and legitimate objectives of the university, shall be a violation of university policy. Violators shall be subject to discipline internal to the university, including expulsion, job review and possible dismissal, as well as prosecution for infringements of U.S. or Iowa law, such as Iowa Code Chapter 716A.

*The threshold of probable cause is reached when "a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstance sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person's belief that certain alleged facts are probably true." (Ballentine's Legal Dictionary and Thesaurus)


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