The CS Honor Code and Computer Usage Policy

New Student Account Agreement

Prior to accessing our computing environment, every student must read and agree to abide by Honor Code Guidelines for Computer Science Courses and Computer Science User Policy.

This document covers how the Honor Code applies in the particular setting of computer science assignments and also outlines appropriate use of our computing environment. Do not hesitate to ask if you do not understand how these apply to a particular situation or if their intention is unclear.

Honor Code Guidelines for Computer Science Courses

The Honor Code as it applies to non-programming assignments is outlined in the Student Handbook.

For programming assignments in computer science courses, the honor code is interpreted in very specific ways. When a program is assigned, your instructor will identify it as a “practice,” “test,” “laboratory,” or “team” program. The Honor Code applies to each as follows (unless otherwise specified by the instructor):

  • Practice Programs. These are provided to help you gain an understanding of a topic, and are not graded.

Guideline: Help on these programs is unrestricted.

  • Test Programs. Any assignment designated as a test program is to be treated exactly as a take-home, open-book test. You are allowed to read your textbook, class notes, and any other source approved by your instructor. You may not consult anyone other than your instructor. The instructor encourages the asking of questions, but reserves the right not to answer, just as you would expect during an exam.

Guideline: Any work that is not your own is considered a violation of the Honor Code.

  • Laboratory Programs. Laboratory programs are expected to be the work of the individual student, designed and coded by him or her alone. Help locating errors and interpreting error messages are allowed, but a student may only receive help in correcting errors of syntax; help in correcting errors of logic is strictly forbidden.

Guideline: Assistance in the design or coding of program logic will be considered a violation of the Honor Code.

  • Team Programs. Team programs are laboratory or test programs to be worked on in teams of two or more students. You are allowed to discuss team programs with your partners, but work with others is otherwise restricted by the appropriate rules above.

Guideline: Any work that is not the work of your team is considered a violation of the Honor Code.

  • Solutions to assignments should not be posted in any public forum, including public git (e.g., GitHub, GitLab, etc) repositories. Students taking our courses should not be looking for solutions, but tempting them by making solutions available is inappropriate. This applies not just to the semester you are taking the course, but to the future as well.

Guideline: Do not post homework solutions online.  We encourage students to maintain personal portfolios, but they must be shared with privately with prospective employers.

If you do not understand how the Honor Code applies to a particular assignment, consult your instructor. Students should be aware of the Computer Ethics outlined in the Student Handbook. Violations (including uninvited access to private information and malicious tampering with or theft of computer equipment or software) are subject to disciplinary action.

Guideline: To protect your work dispose of printouts and copies of your work carefully, and avoid leaving your programs on hard disks in labs and other public storage areas.

The Department of Computer Science takes the Honor Code seriously. Violations are easy to identify and will be dealt with promptly.

Computer Science User Policy

The purpose of the Computer Science Department’s computing equipment is to further computer science study and research at Williams College by providing access to data and equipment not otherwise available to individuals. We want you to use it in good faith. This document gives some examples of acceptable and unacceptable use. It is not meant to be exhaustive.

You, the user, must:

  • Respect the rights and privacy of other users: access only files and data that are your own, are publicly available, or to which you have been given authorized access.
  • Be considerate in your use of shared resources: make economic use of CPU time, network bandwidth, disk space, printer paper, and other resources.
  • Take reasonable steps to protect your account, including not sharing your password or account with another person.

You, the user, must not:

  • Use another person’s user id, password, files, or data without express permission from them.
  • Use software in unauthorized attempts to decode passwords or other encrypted data.
  • Attempt to circumvent or subvert system or network security measures.
  • Engage in any activity that might be harmful to systems, or to any information stored within them, such as creating or propagating viruses, disrupting services, or damaging files.
  • Make or use illegal copies of copyrighted software, store such copies on computer science systems, or transmit them over computer science networks.
  • Use mail or messaging services to intentionally harass, intimidate, or otherwise annoy another person.
  • Waste computing resources – for example, by intentionally placing a program in an endless loop, by printing excessive amounts of data or paper, or using the printer for non-CS use.
  • Engage in any other activity that does not comply with the principles presented above or the general rules of the College.

We, the faculty in this department and system administrators of this system, will:

  • Make a reasonable effort to provide consistent access to the resources of the Computer Science Department.
  • Not interfere with use of the system except in emergency situations or unless announced in advance.
  • Not violate the privacy of a user’s files or transmissions except in emergency situations, including but not limited to suspected break-ins, suspected security violations, suspected viruses, or illegal activity. In the case of activity of those kinds, reports will be made to notify the college administration before taking any action. It is understood that in an emergency situation, the system administrators may need to take immediate action.
  • Abide by the user rules given above, but reserve the right to copy and/or examine files that are suspected of being related to unacceptable use of the system, including but not limited to suspected break-ins, suspected security violations, suspected viruses, illegal activity, and cases of suspected academic misconduct, in order to maintain the security and usability of the system for all.

Please note that email and other files are not guaranteed by the Computer Science Department to be private – please observe precautions when using this service, especially when using it in conjunction with the Internet.

Note also that the system administrators reserve the right to cooperate with other system administrators by providing necessary data when the CS machines are suspected of causing or being a recipient of unacceptable activity.

Misuse of this system and its services may result in loss of computing privileges, demands for financial restitution, and/or disciplinary action depending on the severity of the offense.

Be aware that the Williams College computer usage policies also apply to all users of our systems. These are available here.

(This User Policy is based on a similar document from Swarthmore College.)