Computers and E-mail

<< Return to Chapter 15: General Policies

Swarthmore provides many employees with access to computers and electronic mail, and cell phones which include test messaging capabilities for the purpose of conducting the College's business. While Swarthmore does not monitor the usage of these systems and equipment except for normal maintenance, such equipment, systems and messages are the legal property of Swarthmore College. Therefore, the College can be required to provide legal authorities access to systems, equipment and messages and is permitted to retrieve information for internal purposes. In the case of a clear institutional need, (e.g., an internal investigation or the unanticipated absence of a staff member), the college reserves the right to retrieve and review the contents of an employee's computer or electronic communications.

Computers and electronic networks are provided for business communications. Personal use should be minimal and occur during breaks and/or lunch so as not to interfere with the completion of your job responsibilities. More extensive personal use of college computers is permitted outside of working hours in public computing areas.

While the College makes reasonable efforts to protect the privacy of computers and electronic communications, the very nature of the technology makes it impossible for the College to guarantee privacy. It is possible that any communications created, sent, or retrieved, or even deleted may be retrieved and read by individuals other than the intended recipient.

Individuals with access to the Swarthmore College network have the following obligations and responsibilities:

  • to respect the intellectual property of individuals and the College and
  • to protect computer accounts from unauthorized use by others.

Each computer account is provided for the use of a specific individual and may not be used by another staff member without his/her express permission and only for legitimate College purposes. A staff member should report unauthorized use of a computer account immediately to his/her supervisor. Information Technology Services should be contacted when there is a suspicion of unauthorized use so an investigation can be conducted.

Notwithstanding Swarthmore's right to read and retrieve any email, such messages should be treated as confidential by other employees and accessed only by the intended recipient or an authorized supervisor or other authorized representative of the College. Employees are not authorized to retrieve or read any email that is not sent to them.

Email messages are subject to the same standards of professionalism as other types of communication and must not violate the College's policies regarding equal employment opportunity, discrimination, or harassment. For more information, see Equal Employment Opportunity. The e-mail system is also subject to the College's non solicitation and confidentiality policies described in this chapter. In addition, the system may not be used to send or receive copyrighted materials.

Employees who violate these policies or who use the e-mail system for improper purposes are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from employment.

Following a voluntary separation of employment or a lay-off, the College will provide for the continuation of an employee's e-mail privileges for a transition period of thirty (30) days. Alternately, the employee may request a forwarding message be placed on his/her e-mail account for a period of thirty (30) days. However, the College may decide to immediately cancel access to certain sensitive computer programs or to the computer assigned to the individual. However, the College will insure that the affected employee will have access to all their personal files.