Information and Policies >
Computer and Network Access:
Conditions of Account
Computer and network access at Mount Holyoke College is provided
in accordance with the
Policy on Responsible Use of Computing Resources.
A computer account provides access to various computing or network
resources at Mount Holyoke, such as the ella learning management
system, the ISIS student, faculty, and staff information
system, email, and others. Not all accounts have access to all of
Computer account is for your use only
This account is for your use only. The password is not to be given
to anyone else for any reason. If you suspect someone has obtained your password,
change it immediately and request assistance from LITS
(x2600) if necessary.
Sharing of accounts is strictly prohibited. The use of your account
by anyone else is considered a breach of system security.
If you ever get an email message that asks for your password,
do not answer it. Those messages are always a fraud.
If you answer such a message, someone else will use your account.
Among other things, your account could be used for sending
tens of thousands of spams.
Because of the growing numbers of passwords we all have to contend with,
having a personal strategy for password security is important.
You should consider having a few, unrelated and very secure passwords
for specific purposes, such as your banking and credit card(s)
and your MHC account.
Your primary MHC password should be different from any other password.
It should not be used for other purposes such as Meeting Maker or
a Windows login. It should absolutely never be used on any non-MHC
Safe and secure password
Your password should have a high degree of internal security
so that it cannot be guessed or discovered using hacking tools.
Selection of secure passwords is discussed in our password
Passwords should be changed to unrelated passwords periodically.
This reduces the chance that the system will be compromised
because someone was able to detect or discover your password.
Too frequent password changes, however, can lead to easy to guess
Storage of passwords electronically
Do not allow your desktop computer to "remember" passwords for
you. This is a problem for two reasons. First, it can cause
you to forget your password. Second, it means that anyone with
physical access to your computer can access your information.
Storage of passwords physically
For years security professionals have said that you should
never write down your password. Unfortunately, with the number
of passwords many people have to deal with today, storing
passwords somehow is important.
If you write your password down, do not leave it under your
keyboard or anywhere that someone might be able to discover it.
Keep it in a secure location.
(Consider not writing it down exactly; omit a letter or number.)
Account classification, duration, and expiration
Accounts are valid for the term of employment.
(These may include 5-College employees.)
Accounts are expired when employment ends.
In special circumstances, a grace period may be
granted after employment ends.
This is normally requested by the individual's
supervisor or department chair before the
term of employment ends..
| Retirees and Emeriti
Retirees and Emeriti normally may retain their
computer accounts. Some services, such as library
database access, may not be available.
Student accounts are valid while enrolled at MHC.
Account privileges are normally continued for students
on leave or for those enrolled
at other institutions who are expected to return.
| Five College students
Accounts are provided to Five College students while they
are enrolled in MHC courses. The account expires when the
term ends or when the course is dropped.
Graduates may retain their computer account for the purpose
of electronic communications.
Accounts may not be retained for
accounts that have had policy violations or other
An account that is persistently over INBOX quota
will be inactivated. When the individual is ready to prune
the INBOX, she may have the account reactivated by
contacting the MHC email address, account-manager.
An account that has been inactive for over a year
may be inactivated. It may be reactivated on request
if the individual wishes to use it again.
For details, please see the document,
"Computer Account Access after Graduation".
| Other affiliations
Limited term accounts are provided for others who have
temporary affiliations with the College, such as
contract workers, visiting faculty, consultants.
Because we strictly prohibit the sharing
of accounts with others such as family members,
we provide accounts for employee spouses, partners, and
Accounts expire when the affiliation expires.
Infractions of acceptable use
Illegal activities using the College network
or computers are prohibited. (Many of the specific examples
below fit into this category.)
Attempting to gain unauthorized access to any other system.
In some cases, this may fall into the category of criminal behavior.
Copyright law violation
Copyright infringement can put you and/or the institution at
risk of legal action which can, at the very least, be
College computers and network will not be used for any personal
business activity that is not related to the mission of the
College. While this
does not preclude intermittent posting of items for sale
in appropriate newsgroups, advertising is not permitted.
Presentation of a personal resume on your personal homepage
is not considered a commercial purpose.
Excessive use of resources
The computers and network are a shared resource. It is
difficult to define exactly what is excessive use of these
resources, but if affects others' uses of the systems, it
As a user of the computer system, you are a member of a
larger community. Actions you take have an effect on others.
For example, excessive use of disk resources or computer time
can negatively impact others' use of the system and will have
to be curtailed unless special and valid reasons are given.
(It is usually the case that occurrences of these problems are
accidental and are corrected by informing the individual of the problem.)
Another example would be a personal computer system spewing
large amounts of traffic onto the network.
Inappropriate resource use
Various resources, such as disk space, is provided for specific
purposes. For example, disk space in a departmental shared area
should not be used for personal information. Another example
would be the use of a mailing list for something other than
its intended use.
Allowing access to campus resources to non-community members
This may occur, for example, if a personal computer is compromised
(hacked) or infected with a virus or a "bot".
Harassment and other unwanted contact
Do not continue to attempt communications with someone
who has indicated that communication is not desired.
After someone has indicated that communication is
not desired, continued attempts may be considered harassing.
Forgery or other misrepresentation of one's identity via
any form of electronic communication.
Do not send unsolicited bulk email (spam) not related to
the College mission. Do not use mailing lists for purposes
for which they were not intended.
Network attached devices
Any device on the network that adversely affects the network
should be removed.
For more details on Acceptable Use, please see
Policy on Responsible Use of Computing Resources at Mount Holyoke College (pdf)
Information stored on College computers
Personal information on accounts must be saved by the account owner
prior to the end of the term of the account.
Information in an expired account that is pertinent to the business
of the College may be moved to an active account.
Privacy of information
Although there is a general expectation of privacy of
in the event of subpoena or other legal action or
investigation, information may be accessed by College
Information related to the business of the College remains
that of the College.
File contents, like electronic mail, are generally private and in
most circumstances, there can be an expectation of privacy. However,
there are conditions in which privacy cannot be assured.
Some of these circumstances are:
Your HOME directory contains some "dot" files which have to do
with login processing to which the system managers must have access.
These files should generally not be altered or removed.
(Examples of such files are: .ssh, .profile, .cshrc, .login, and .logout)
In extraordinary circumstances, for purposes of system
or College security, or system resource allocation and
performance, specific contents may be viewed by system managers.
For example, files that are being run as programs and/or
are consuming large amounts of system resources may have to
be examined in order to
determine whether the program should be unconditionally
terminated, whether it is operating normally and can be left
running, or whether there is a security breach in the system.
In the course of an investigation of health/safety issues,
misconduct, or illegal
activity, a designated system manager may be required to examine
contents of specific files deemed related to the investigation.
Files and other information may be released in response to
a subpoena or other legal investigation.
If an account has been used for College business and the account has
been closed or expired, contents of specific files may be
examined by a designated system manager with the concurrence
of the Director of
Human Resources to determine if they
need to be retained or moved.
If an account is used in connection with the administration
of the College, it may be necessary to provide the supervisor
with specific file(s) related to such administration if
the account owner is not available. This is done with the concurrence
of the Director of Human Resources.
Files may be read if the file permissions have been set to
grant others permission to read or write the files.
World Wide Web files: all files on the World Wide Web server(s)
are considered public. Even if the individual does not
specifically permit such files for public viewing, they may
be made available for public viewing.
File names and file sizes are not considered
private. These may be seen by system managers in
the course of operating the system.
Disk usage and disk quotas
Disk space is a limited resource. Disk quotas are implemented
in order to prevent individuals from using more than a fair share
of storage. Disk quotas may be adjusted for College business and
Your computer account may have access to a number of different
disk areas, similar to separate disks on your personal computer.
Each area has its own quota of disk storage for each computer
You should view your disk usage from time to time by going to
the disk quota area of Webshell at:
If you exceed your quota on a particular disk area, or filesystem,
you should receive an email warning. You can exceed your quota
up to a hard quota limit for a 7-day grace period. Normally
the hard quota limit is significantly higher than the quota so work
is usually not affected during the grace period. Quota limits on
some filesystems may be increased for College academic or business
Personal or local storage vs. server storage
The advantage of
server storage is that it is routinely backed up to prevent
loss from disk failures.
Most of us are not diligent about backing up our own computers,
Therefore, information on server storage is
less likely to be lost than information on the hard drive
of your own computer. Loss is also a factor. A USB flash
drive may also hold a lot
of information, but it is quite easy to misplace or lose.
server disk storage is very much more expensive than personal storage.
For less than a cost of a dinner in most restaurants, you can
purchase more storage on a USB flash drive
than we can afford to provide for each person on the
So where should you store your information? Should you store
it on the server (network space) or on your local
devices (desktop computer, USB/flash drives, CDs or DVDs)?
Unfortunately there is rarely a definitive answer. It depends
on various factors.
Type of use:
Is the information for College business (academic/administrative),
personal academic work/research, or other personal use?
You should choose server storage for material that is
related to College academic or business work. Some server space
is provided for personal information, such as personal email.
Size of the material:
Some academic material, such as movies, large numbers of pictures, or
very large data sets may be too large for server storage
and should use personal or local storage.
Frequency of use:
Some large sets of material, such as multimedia or research files
referred to above, may be frequently used for a particular class
for a limited time. While the primary storage may be on personal
or local devices, server storage during the period of frequent
access may make sense.
Development material and distribution material:
There are some projects (especially those involving multimedia)
which require a great deal of disk space during development,
but which require much less space for the final form of the
project. Only the final project needs to use server storage
Server storage should not be used for backup for personal or local
storage. It is prudent, however, to do the opposite and
back up server storage to local or personal storage. The
exception to this relates to confidential College information
which should remain on the server only.