Policies on Departmental Computing Equipment Usage, Allocation, and Administration

Authorized Users

  • Usage of departmental computing facilities is limited to CS faculty, staff, students and other students registered in courses offered by the department, and individuals doing activities that further the mission of the department in collaboration with department faculty and staff. In the latter case, there must be a member of the faculty or staff who takes responsibility for recommending permission be granted, and for monitoring the continued need for use. Individuals who have left one of the above categories, e.g., through graduation, may have their account extended for at least one semester, as a courtesy, upon request to the System Administrator.
  • Usage of computing facilities may be further limited according to needs or categories of users.

Allocation of Departmental Equipment

  • First priority for new equipment purchased out of State funds by the department generally will go for items that are shared by the entire department (e.g., servers, network infrastructure), shared by several courses (e.g., teaching labs), or to support core department functions (e.g., teaching assistant workstations).
  • All faculty members are initially provided with one workstation, when they are hired. For faculty who have startup budgets, this comes from their startup budget.
  • Notwithstanding the above, each faculty member is entitled to one functional workstation in his/her office, adequate to read e-mail, write research papers, teach his/her classes, and log remotely into the department's servers. This entitlement may be invoked by faculty without grant funding to request repair or replacement, whenever the faculty member's primary office workstation fails or becomes antiquated, regardless of the source of funds originally used to buy it. The department will decide, based on available resources, whether to repair the workstation or provide a replacement, and which replacement workstation to provide.

Faculty Purchased Equipment

  • Faculty purchased equipment may be obtained from grant funding, startup, annual allocation, or personal funds.
  • Faculty members with grants are expected to fund upgrades to their workstations from grants, and possibly also from their annual departmental expense budget allotments.
  • Funding maintenance and repair of grant-purchased equipment is the responsibility of the PI(s) (principal investigators) on the applicable grant, so long as the equipment remains under the control of the PI(s).
  • Computing equipment dedicated for the use of research assistants must come from grants or faculty startup budgets. An exception may be made when the department has unused equipment and makes it available for research use.
  • Upon the termination of a contract or grant, property purchased on such contract or grant may (if authorized by the contract or grant) be transferred to another contract or grant. Otherwise, it reverts to the control of the department. In this case however, the PI(s) shall be allowed to maintain custody of the property indefinitely unless extraordinary circumstances warrant its return to general departmental usage.
  • The department shall provide paper and toner supplies for departmental printers used by general faculty, staff, and students, though cost considerations may warrant quotas and/or charges for printing. Unless financial considerations dictate otherwise, the department shall also provide toner and paper for faculty purchased printers in common areas. Printers residing in faculty member offices shall not receive toner from the department. This service will only attend, however, to printers purchased from an approved list, which will be maintained by the Systems Group. Non-standard printers shall not be supplied by the department. Faculty purchased printers must also include at least two initial toner cartridges.

Department Controlled Laboratories

  • The Department will maintain a majors laboratory, primarily for the use of undergraduate CS majors, where students can work on class projects. The hours in which this laboratory will be open will be publicized and it will be monitored when it is open.
  • The Department will maintain a graduate laboratory with sufficient space and machines for graduate students who do not have an office with a computer on their desk. This laboratory will serve the needs of graduate students who are part-time or who do not currently have support from the department.
  • The Department will maintain a laboratory capability for students in courses that require privileged (root) access or use of one or more dedicated computers for a term. If the students in a course will require such access, then the faculty member offering the course, the department chair, and the Systems Group should coordinate to reserve sufficient computers in the lab for the enrollment cap and needs of the course, at the time the course is scheduled. Other uses of the lab may be arranged with the Systems Group on a space-available basis. Class meetings should not be scheduled in the room during a term in which students are using the lab for course projects, unless the class meeting is for one of those courses and requires in-class access by the students to the machines in the lab.

System Security

  • Root/administrative privilege shall normally be exclusively maintained by the System Group on all departmental computing facilities. However, faculty members who so wish may assume exclusive root control of computing equipment, hereafter called a "user-administered" machine. At no time shall root control of computing facilities be shared between the System group and any other entity. Root privilege for students is specifically discouraged for security reasons but may be granted upon sufficient need at the written request of a supervising faculty member on a form provided by the Systems Group. The faculty member shall take responsibility for the actions of the student.
  • User-administered machines shall not be placed within the core network but shall be logically located within either the "Research" Network or the "Outside" Network. Both department- and user-administered machines should have the capacity to access the outside network if needed.
  • Said machines shall not be trusted members of the departmental network and shall not, for example, be allowed to mount filesystems to or from the core network.
  • Faculty in charge of user-administered machines accept the significantly increased security risk of operating in a network with multiple individuals and groups having root access to machines.
  • Faculty with root privileges (or who are supervising students with root privileges) of machines take specific responsibility for the use and security of said machines. By accepting such authority, faculty members specifically agree to maintain secure systems, including but not limited to installing all applicable security upgrades and patches and (on MS Windows systems) maintaining (and properly updating) adequate virus protection.

System Administration Services

  • The objective of the System Group is to provide a secure and effective networking infrastructure and system services to faculty, staff and students in support of the departmental mission.
  • Faculty with root privileges accept the primary responsibility for the maintenance of their machines and are expected to be, or become, competent to manage said machines. The System Group shall provide initial installation of the operating system and attempt to assist in the administration of said machines where assistance is needed, but priority shall be given to networking facilities under their control.
  • Faculty members are expected to research and understand their own computing purchases, but the System Group will attempt to offer advice where applicable, subject to constraints of time and manpower. Faculty are strongly encouraged to communicate with the Systems Group prior to purchases to ensure that purchases will be compatible with the existing computing infrastructure.
  • The Systems Group will provide periodic backup service for user data files that are pertinent to the department's mission of teaching, research, and service subject to backup constraints within the department. In the case that the need for backup exceeds the capacity of physical backup resources, the Equipment Committee will be consulted to provide policy for priority of allocation of these resources.
  • Space in the department's main server room, which has UPS power and stronger cooling, may be provided for some grant-purchased computers, but only with advance approval of the Network Administrator. Computers to be placed in this room must be rack mountable and to be able to fit into one of the department's equipment racks. Permission for new computers to reside in the main server room will be based on:
    • the availability of space and power
    • agreement that physical access for any such computers will be limited to the Systems Group
    • root/administrator privilege for any such computers will be reserved for the Systems Group
    • Space in other departmental machine rooms may be provided upon request for faculty purchased equipment. Faculty receiving permission to place machines in these rooms will be provided physical access. Permission for new computers to reside in these machine rooms will be based on the availability of needed resources, such as space, power, cooling and security.
  • The Systems Group will attempt to provide support for department-controlled classrooms.
    • The Systems Group will maintain the computing equipment and projectors owned by the department in these classrooms.
    • The Systems Group will provide software and computer lab set-ups required for regularly listed courses offered by the department, subject to adequate advance notice and the availability of physical resources. Faculty should coordinate with the Systems Group prior to scheduling of courses requiring special support.
  • The Systems Group will maintain the software and equipment in the department controlled student laboratories that allow students access to the network.
  • The Systems Group will make a reasonable effort to install on departmental servers other software requested by faculty, given available funds, reasonable justification, advance notice, and subject to security concerns. Given other factors being equal, the Systems Group will give preference to installing free software in order to reduce costs.

Resolution of Conflicts

In the event of any disputes involving equipment usage, allocation or administration, every effort should first be made by the concerned parties to resolve the issue in a collegial manner. In case the disputes cannot be resolved in a collegial manner, the Equipment Committee will consider the dispute and make a recommendation to the Department Chair.