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Guidelines on the Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

At Swarthmore College, generative artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to enhance how education is delivered and research is conducted. It can facilitate the development of customized learning plans, brainstorm alongside researchers, reduce the time spent on administrative tasks, and more.

Implementing generative AI also brings with it a set of challenges that must be carefully managed. The unpredictability of AI-generated content, coupled with potential biases, ethical concerns, and data privacy issues, necessitates a set of guidelines that ensure accountability, transparency, and academic integrity.

Generative AI is not the first technology to present both opportunities and risks to academia. Similar to the advent of the Internet, smartphones, and social media, it too is a tool that can enable or hinder the mission of the college. As with other emerging technologies, use of AI should follow the applicable policies and standards outlined within the Information Technology Policies and Guidelines, Student Code of Conduct, and Employee handbook. In addition to the guidelines presented below, individual departments are encouraged to discuss and develop their own internal approach to using AI as appropriate.

Community members should keep the following guidelines in mind when using AI technologies:

  • Privacy, security, and safety: AI tools may potentially consume and/or expose private, sensitive information to other users. Without a Swarthmore College contract that specifically protects institutional data from being used by training models or otherwise isolates Swarthmore College data into a separate instance that is not accessible by parties external to the college, the sharing of any non-public, confidential, proprietary, or otherwise sensitive information to any AI tool is not permitted. Currently, Swarthmore College does not have a specific contract or agreement with most AI tools or services. Learn more about Administrative Information classification.
    • Swarthmore College is committed to respecting privacy and confidentiality of personal data and information. This Swarthmore College Privacy Notice contains important information about your privacy at the College.
    • The College’s formal Information Security Plan is designed to ensure the security, integrity, and confidentiality of non-public customer information, protecting it against anticipated threats, and guarding it against unauthorized access or use.
  • Purchasing and procurement: Swarthmore's Purchasing Policy requires ITS approval for purchasing "Software application contract[s], subscription[s], digital content."
    • Before procuring AI tools, submit a support ticket to the ITS Service Portal ( with a short description of the planned use for the tool, including the Administrative Information classification of the data that will be used with the tool. 
    • ITS will review the tool, evaluating based on security, data management, cost, accuracy/reliability, accessibility, bias/ethical concerns and provide a recommendation to purchase or provide potential alternative tools to accomplish the need.
  • Accountability: You are responsible for verifying the accuracy of content created with the assistance of AI. There are many examples of Generative AI producing factually inaccurate output, commonly referred to as “hallucinating”, or generating output based on biased data. Content generated with the assistance of AI should always be manually checked for accuracy and bias.

    • Those choosing to make use of AI tools should familiarize themselves with the policies and practices of the specific platform being used.

    • Where appropriate, consider including citation, attribution, and/or an explanation of how the tool was used should when sharing material created with the assistance of AI.

As AI technology is rapidly evolving, these guidelines are subject to change. They are not intended to replace existing College policy, but rather assist community members in using the available tools responsibly. If you have specific questions regarding the use of AI at Swarthmore College, please contact for additional guidance.