For clarification or questions about any policies or procedures, please contact helpdesk or the Director of Computer Resources.



When you are given access to GSD computer facilities and to the campus-wide network, you assume responsibility for their appropriate use. The school expects students and other community members to be careful, honest, responsible, and civil in the use of computers and networks. Those who use wide-area networks (such as the Internet) to communicate with individuals or to connect to computers at other institutions are expected to abide by the rules for the remote systems and networks, as well as those for Harvard’s systems.

In addition to being a violation of GSD rules, certain computer misconduct is prohibited under Massachusetts General Laws, c.266 subsection 33 (a) and 12 (f) and is, therefore, subject to criminal penalties. Such misconduct includes:

  • knowingly gaining unauthorized access to a computer system or database
  • falsely obtaining electronic services or data without payment of required charges
  • destroying electronically processed, stored, or in-transit data

Users are expected to consult a Computer Resources Group staff member before any activity that would appear to threaten the security or performance of the school’s computers and networks. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.

Accounts and Passwords

Your passwords, including HarvardKey, should be considered valuable and private; & should not be loaned or shared.
Your HarvardKey and any other GSD network account names and passwords give access to public computers and network resources such as printing, web access, and email, and may also be used to incur charges for color printing or the use of other resources.

  • There is never a valid reason for anyone to ask for or know any of  your passwords; any member of the GSD community, including cross-registered students, visiting faculty and temporary staff, can get an account and password for free.
  • Students may be held responsible for misuse which occurs by allowing access to a third party to their own computer or account.
  • A malicious individual with access to your password may be able send e-mail appearing to be from you, remove and modify files in your home directory, and incur charges that will be billed to you.

If you ever believe any password has been misused or misappropriated, contact Help Desk at once.


As a matter of policy, what you do on your own time on your own computer is your own business, and no records are kept centrally which can be used to recover those actions. (Other places or agencies, such as web sites or corporations, may keep records which can be traced to you.) The Computer Resources Group will never open any individual’s email or otherwise invade the privacy of an individual computer, without involvement of senior staff (dean of students, executive dean, etc.) and reasonable notice if it is feasible.

In the case of staff or student assistants at the GSD, who use a school-owned computer to store files in their course of work and receive e-mail pertaining to their job, those files and e-mails may be opened or forwarded at the request of the staff supervisor or a responsible officer of the university. Staff are also bound by the provisions of the University policies on Information Security and privacy, as documented at…Staff_Personnel_Manual/Section2/Privacy 

Information stored on a computer system or sent electronically over a network is the property of the individual who created it. Examination, collection, or dissemination of that information without authorization from the owner is a violation of the owner’s rights to control his or her own property. Exception: Systems Administrators may gain access to user’s data or programs when it is necessary to maintain or prevent damage to systems or to ensure compliance with other University rules.

Computer systems and networks provide mechanisms for the protection of private information from examination. These mechanisms are necessarily imperfect and any attempt to circumvent them or to gain unauthorized access to private information (including both stored computer files and messages transmitted over a network) will be treated as a violation of privacy and will be cause for disciplinary action. In general, information that the owner would reasonably regard as private must be treated as private by other users. Examples include the contents of electronic mail boxes, the private file storage areas of individual users, and information stored in other areas that are not public. That measures have not been taken to protect such information does not make it permissible for others to inspect it. On shared and networked computer systems certain information about users and their activities is visible to others. Users are cautioned that certain accounting and directory information (for example, user names and electronic mail addresses), certain records of file names and executed commands, and information stored in public areas, are not private. Nonetheless, such unsecured information about other users must not be manipulated in ways that they might reasonably find intrusive; for example, eavesdropping by computer and systematic monitoring of the behavior of others. Actions such as these are likely to be considered invasions of privacy and would be cause for disciplinary action.


The GSD computer network and information systems may contain confidential or personally-identifiable information. Because of this, all provisions of Harvard’s Information Security Policy (ISP), as enumerated at apply to all GSD community — staff, faculty and students. Any violations of the provisions of those policies may lead to disciplinary proceedings or removal from the network.

All staff should be aware of the provisions at the GSD for complying with the University’s ISP.

Individual Responsibility

You are the primary person responsible for your own success in computing at the GSD, (as elsewhere, and in other aspects of life)! Maintaining effective anti-virus protection, systematic back-ups of important work, and physical protection and security of your computer equipment are your responsibility. The CRG staff and resources may be allocated from time to time to help, but are never to blame and may not always be available.

Electronic Communication

Harvard neither sanctions nor censors individual expression of opinion on its systems. The same standards of behavior are expected in the use of electronic mail as in the use of telephones, and written, and oral communication. Therefore electronic mail, like telephone messages, must be neither obscene nor harassing. Similarly, messages must not misrepresent the identity of the sender and should not be sent as chain letters, or broadcast indiscriminately to large numbers of individuals. This prohibition includes unauthorized mass electronic mailings. For example, e-mail on a given topic that is sent to large numbers of recipients should in general be directed only to those who have indicated a willingness to receive such e-mail.

Academic Use

Only uses which are in support of your educational courses and research — no commercial or ‘non-GSD’ activities  — are allowed. Personal or extra-curricular work may be allowed when it does not interfere with higher priority academic use.

Computer and network facilities are provided to students primarily for their educational use. These facilities have tangible value. Consequently, attempts to circumvent accounting systems or to use the computer accounts of others will be treated as forms of attempted theft.

  • Students may not attempt to damage or to degrade the performance of Harvard’s computers and networks and should not disrupt the work of other users.
  • Students may not attempt to circumvent security systems or to exploit or probe any Harvard network or system for security holes, nor may students attempt any such activity against other systems accessed through Harvard’s facilities. Running programs designed to breach system security is prohibited and unlawful.

If you download or distribute movies, music, software, or other copyrighted materials from the Internet without the owner’s permission — whether you do it from your desktop, dorm-room, or wirelessly, etc — you may be breaking the law. You are culpable even if the source of the material is a Web site that appears to be offering a legal and inexpensive service. You bear the risk since the Harvard network is provided to support academic activity, not the transmission of illegally acquired movies or music. Penalties are severe; you may lose your network privileges, you may be disciplined by Harvard, and you may be criminally liable.

The University, the GSD, and you, are legally bound by the terms of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), and all GSD commmunity members must abide by the University’s rules and policies, published at .

All users of the GSD’s network must respect the copyrights of works that are accessible through that network. Under federal copyright law, no copyrighted work may be copied, published, disseminated, displayed, performed, or played without permission of the copyright holder. The GSD may terminate the network access of users who are found to have repeatedly infringed the copyrights of others. Questions about copying or other use of copyrighted works may be referred to any academic officer.

Software: Most GSD-provided software is ‘site-licensed’ for concurrent use on the GSD network only, for academic/educational purposes only. You may not re-distribute the software outside the GSD, nor attempt to circumvent the license-protection mechanism (Keyserver, Flex-LM, others.) Use of ‘pirate’, or ‘cracked’ versions of software on the GSD network is strictly forbidden, and may result in penalties.

If you have any question about the ownership of material, printed, images, sound, or other, you should make an effort to determine the ownership. Consult with help in the Library and online if you are uncertain. Signed artwork and music by published artists should be presumed to be protected by copyright.

Public Computers

Given the school’s requirement for each student to provide their own suitable laptop, the few public computers at the GSD are provided primarily as a convenience in small clusters (e.g. in Loeb Library), or attached to peripherals such as scanners,  and secondarily as a backup shared resource for individual users. No reservations are accepted for public computers, and it is an abuse for individuals to tie up one or more public computers when they are not physically present, such as with long-running rendering jobs;  and it is officially acceptable for physically-present students, wishing to use such a public computer, to restart the computer, interrupting the long-running job,  in order to use the computer in question.

Hardware Standards & Procurement

Staff will be issued one main workstation, typically a laptop.  One set of peripherals (monitors, keyboard & mouse etc.) will be issued to be set up at the staff’s main work location (on-site or remote). Additional peripherals can be issued to be used at a secondary work location (travel dock and power cable). The monitors provided are Dell Monitor Hubs that have built-in docks that provide power and additional ports to the laptop.

  • Laptop computer (Microsoft Surface Laptop or Macbook Pro)
  • 27” Monitor w/ built-in dock (and webcam if requested) or dual 24” monitors with built-in dock & webcam
  • Travel dock (additional ports USB/Ethernet/HDMI)
  • Laptop Stand vertical or horizontal (if requested)
  • Keyboard & mouse (Ergonomic options if requested)
  • Over-the-ear headset with microphone (if requested)

A Harvard phone number will be assigned to you, you will have the option to use a physical handset if working on-site or a softphone using Cisco Webex

Special ergonomic requests will be reviewed by HR as needed.


The expectation is that staff members receiving equipment will meet with IT staff on-site to facilitate the setup of the computer as part of the onboarding process.  Shipping and remote setup can be requested if there are extenuating circumstances preventing the staff member from meeting in person.

For more information or to request equipment assistance: please contact [email protected]

Service Agreements

We provide consultation, technical support and troubleshooting with respect to computing, IT and presentation technology, but not ‘on-call personnel’.

We expect advance notice, knowledge of posted procedures and technologies (from the online resources section of, and in-kind staffing support (warm bodies.) Events outside of normal 9-5 weekday hours need extra advance notice, and can’t always be provided for with normal systems — extra provisions, including hired help, may be required.

Media Services (MS)  include helping to specify and prepare presentation equipment (above or beyond ‘Powerpoint’ projection or simple video playing, both of which are provided in most GSD spaces as part of normal operations) in Piper Auditorium or other Gund Hall/Sumner Rd. rooms. Events outside of these locations require extra notice and preparation and may not be supported.

Laptop computers,  digital projectors, digital cameras and audio/video recording equipment are available for check-out from the Loeb Library circulation desk. Some additional computing or presentation equipment may be available from Helpdesk or MS for extended loan. Other equipment may have to be rented from outside suppliers; Helpdesk or MS may be able to recommend vendors or coordinate rentals and installation.

For school-wide events including public lectures, event staffing is provided through Media Services. For all other events, the event-sponsoring units, such as courses, departments, individuals, etc. are responsible for providing bodies to sign up, collect, transport, operate and return borrowed equipment. Help is available to train those bodies in advance in basic procedures. Helpdesk staff and MS staff may be available by prior reservation and may be able to help locate and retain paid outside help.
Clarifications to common misconceptions:

  • All requests for assistance should be made directly to help desk (617) 496-3810 or to Media Services.
  • Other than for public lectures, there are no GSD ‘projectionists’ available from CRG or MS. Courses and events are expected to provide their own staffing for projection.
  • Evening and weekend events require advance notice and preparation, and may require hiring (and paying for) outside help.
  • Video-recording of events requires extra advance notice and may require hiring outside help at the customer’s expense, especially for events outside of normal weekday hours.
  • Video-conference equipment may be available from Media Services.
  • Computer Projectors, LED Displays and associated computers are available for checkout by course TAs for faculty and course support at the Loeb Library Circulation Desk. Users are expected to sign up for, collect, operate, and return (in a timely fashion) the projectors and screens and to familiarize themselves with their operation prior to ‘live’ use.
  • No software or other functionality on borrowed computers should be assumed without testing; all equipment and peripherals should be verified for proper installation and operation prior to ‘live’ use.
  • Special requests made after 4 PM may not be accommodated until the following day.
  • All special requests and ‘extra notice’ need to be cleared with the Director of Computer Resources, (617) 495-2682 or email: [email protected])

Your business / Our business

Computer Resources staff know a lot about the workings of computing machines and networks; but not necessarily about how you are going to use them. We may be able to learn, and help you figure out, but we are not usually able to help with your own ‘business practices’, or getting or interpreting the data for the particular problem you need to solve. An exception is for Geographic Data, for use in a GIS; the GIS and Design  Data Librarian (email [email protected]) may be able to help in this case! In some cases, you may need to read the manual for the software you are trying to use, or seek training or consultation somewhere outside the GSD. GSD community may be able to use the LYNDA software training resources.

Related Links

(some CRG policies are modeled after the following sources:)