Computing Resources, Network, Website and Email Use Policy


Policy Statement

Washington and Lee University provides computing and network resources to its students primarily for educational purposes and to its faculty and staff primarily for work purposes. The University may provide access to other users at its discretion. Use of the University's computing, network, and website resources is a privilege, and individuals using the University's computing, network, and website resources have no right of personal privacy in their use of these resources, including in email messages or attachments they send or receive using the University's email system. All users are expected to exercise personal and professional responsibility and integrity when using these resources.


This policy applies to all users of University owned or managed computer-related equipment, computer systems, and website pages, as well as all information contained therein.


1. General Network Use Guidance

The University enforces necessary restrictions, which may be revised from time to time, to protect its computing, network, and website resources, including the revocation of use privileges for unauthorized or inappropriate use. The Provost or the Chief Technology Officer or designee are authorized to temporarily suspend use privileges where required by law, in case of potential University policy violations, and in any other case in which s/he deems it necessary or advisable for network integrity, security, and operations, until final resolution of the matter. The University reserves the right to investigate concerns of unauthorized or improper use of University resources, as appropriate, and may search, review, monitor, or copy any email sent to or from a University email account for approved purposes only, including without limitation the following:

  • Troubleshooting hardware and software problems
  • Preventing unauthorized access and system misuse
  • Rerouting or disposing of undeliverable email
  • Retrieving business related information
  • Complying with legal requests for information
  • Investigating possible violations of University policies or local, state, or federal law
  • Gathering information potentially relevant to legal claims by or against the University
  • Other purposes approved by the Office of General Counsel

The University reserves the right to remove from its network and website any material that is an unauthorized or improper use of its resources, or in violation of or inconsistent with this policy.

The campus network, including its servers and associated software, and all pages of the University website is the property of Washington and Lee University. Neither the network pathways nor W&L-owned computer systems are to be used:

  • for purposes incompatible with established University policies, procedures, protocols or applicable laws;
  • for unauthorized commercial enterprise;
  • for harassing, fraudulent, or threatening purposes; or
  • for pirating software, music or images.

The following activities are nonexclusive examples of those that are not permitted and that may lead to suspension or revocation of use privileges and other penalties or discipline:

  • unauthorized access, attempts to gain unauthorized access, unauthorized disclosure of confidential information, or violation of the University's Confidentiality Policy involving the University's computing and network resources;
  • misrepresenting or attempting to misrepresent one's identity;
  • altering or tampering with the configuration of computers in student labs and other common areas, or installing unauthorized games or other programs on their hard disks or on the shared-files area of the file servers;
  • any network activity that impedes the flow of network traffic, significantly diminishes the availability of resources to other users, or imposes avoidable burdens on other users (for example, sending mass e-mails instead of using the appropriate services available for communicating with the entire community or large sub-groups); or
  • the unauthorized physical or virtual extension or re-configuration of any portion of the campus network by such means as routers (wired or wireless), wireless access points, network wiring, or other methods.

Students, faculty, staff, and volunteers with access to confidential data are reminded of the University's Confidentiality Policy. Among other things, the policy states that electronic documents and files containing confidential information are to be accessed, used, and disclosed only with explicit authorization and only on a need‐to‐know basis for either an employee's job functions or volunteer's service.

2. Use of University Website and Official University Social Media Accounts

The University's website (including all unit, division, department, and program pages on the University's website) is intended to facilitate the communication of information about and from Washington and Lee University, speaking as an institution, to the campus community as well as the larger world. The website is ideally suited for static content and the presentation of consistent information for current and prospective students and employees, such as curricular and/or academic information, official University announcements (visiting speakers, symposia, etc.), and information related to University recruitment, engagement and fundraising. All content on the University's website must be consistent with the Faculty Handbook statements on "Academic Freedom."

The University's social media accounts fall into two categories: official and unofficial. Official university social media accounts are only those operated by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs, the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, the Office of Alumni Affairs, Sports Information, and the School of Law.

Departments and organizations may have social media accounts, but these are not official University accounts and do not speak for the University in any official capacity. All student organization accounts are considered unofficial. The University does not manage or oversee unofficial platforms nor is the University responsible for the content of such platforms. (See Guidelines and Best Practices for Social Media Use and best practices when posting on an official or unofficial social media account.)

Revision History

Revised: 12/2002; 2/2006; 12/15/2008

8/20/2018: Updated to clarify use of the University's website and official University social media accounts.