Changes made to disputed acceptable use policy


Chief Information Officer Brett Coryell talks to faculty during a University Council meeting Sept. 9. The information technology department spends around $750,000 a year on printing, Coryell said.

By Margaret Maka

Chief Information Officer Brett Coryell and Drew Bjerken, chief information security officer, requested feedback about a new Acceptable Use Policy for the NIU network at a Wednesday Faculty Senate meeting.

A firewall, which was added at NIU to prevent access to malicious sites, allegedly prevented a student from accessing a Wikipedia page two summers ago, an incident that caused many students to believe NIU was blocking content that included social media and pornography. Coryell said that incident led to a review and update of the Acceptable Use Policy.

“The primary distinction between the old Acceptable Use Policy and that one that you are seeing today really is around the difference between what the employees of the university are not allowed to do,” Coryell said.

Coryell said the focus of the updated Acceptable Use Policy was for students to have greater freedom to do things than employees. The new Acceptable Use Policy was designed so that the protections of academic freedom exist fully when one is working with technology on a network or with any other type of electronic medium, the same as they would apply to any other aspect of academic life, Coryell said.


Coryell said IT tracks a lot of information to keep the thousands of devices on campus running.

“In general, when we get past that ordinary operational need to keep systems up and running, IT intends — and we hope we’ve codified in policy — that our action is largely to secure or to safeguard your privacy from overreaching administrative or legal processes,” Coryell said.

Bjerken said IT works to help protect not just personal privacy but also network resources.

“The last thing we want is 20 years of research data to, you know, be stolen by somebody else and published under somebody else’s name,” Bjerken said.

In terms of the privacy policy, most people are worried about who from NIU can see their emails and other personal information, Bjerken said. IT is looking to put new safeguards in place so that individuals will be able to see who is looking at their files and why, in the case of an investigation, Bjerken said.

“My biggest thing now is transparency,” Bjerken said.