Computer Use Will Require Passwords

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To increase accountability and safety, U computer labs will soon be closed to the public.

By Fall Semester, students will need an identification number and password to gain access to any of the computers found in student labs controlled by Administrative Computing Services.

Linda Sinclair, interim head of multimedia center and computing labs, said at certain times of the day. students line the walls of the multimedia center in the Marriott Library, waiting for the next available computer.

One month ago, economics student Paul Peterson wrote a letter published in The Chronicle which read, “It is time?to institute passwords on?computers. Day after day I encounter people who are obviously not students gambling, viewing pornography, gaming, listening to music or talking in chat rooms.?I would not care if I were not paying a fee for the use of the lab. But when I have to compete with the local high school students to do my homework, it gets irritating.”

And U administrators agree.

Undergraduate students taking 15 hours pay $95 a semester to keep the labs open.

Assistant for Library Computing Gary Rasmussen said, “The labs are paid for by students through student fees, we need to make sure they have the first go at them.”

But administrators aren’t only worried about student access, they also worry about copyright laws. The software on the U computers is licensed to the U under contract stipulating students and employees alone have access to it, Rasmussen said.

Administrators still don’t know the final details of the system, but by August, students will need to enter an identification number and password to gain access to the computers, said Steve Hess, associate vice president for information technology.

The ID number will be the numbers already issued by the university preceded by a U. Students select their own passwords, which are then sent through an audit system so that they could not be easily cracked, he said.

Hess said the system will also provide more security for the network creating accountability for each user because of the ability to trace the actions of those who violate rules.

Under the current system those who tamper with the network cannot be traced and are often left unprosecuted, Hess said.

By 2003, those who log on to the new system will then have immediate access to grades and degree audit report and other personal information, Hess explained.

Eventually, the U hopes to allow each students to design their own portals so that each time they log on to the system a personal page appears, allowing them quick access to a number of possible features including weather reports, news briefs, activities, concerts and sporting events, Hess said.

“Students could customize the portal, put things on it that they want on it,” he said.

The portal could even notify students of any outstanding library books, Hess said.

The system envisioned is one like that of the University of California Los Angeles and University of Washington, he said, and could be accessed even from personal computers at home.

The passwords will not solve all of the problems, they will in fact create some, Sinclair said.

She foresees frustrated students who forget their passwords or don’t have their student ID numbers memorized. But it is still the right move to “make sure computers are available for student use.”

The labs affected by the changes include the labs in the Marriott Library’s multimedia center, the Union, the Engineering and Mines Classroom Building and two in Heritage Commons.

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