Com 425 Final Story Draft and Public Records Request

Com 425 Final Story- Rough Draft

Although many students at Washington State University may not remember signing forms stating fair conduct on the Internet when they registered but that does not mean they will not be held accountable for any illegal conduct.

One of the main issues surrounding university provided Internet access is the prevalence of file-sharing sites and the propensity of college students to use them for illegal gains and non-academic purposes.

Students downloading copyrighted media such as movies or games without purchasing them not only put themselves at risk for serious lawsuits but also the university.

“The university can potentially be held liable for illegal actions of students online and that’s why we need to enforce the rules,” said Deborah Baker, associate director at WSU’s Office of Student Standards and Accountability.

Jeff Snell, an information technology administrator at WSU said that one of the challenges of his job is trying to differentiate between what’s legal and illegal when it comes to downloading and file sharing on the university network.

“I think they have the idea that if they start blocking sites, they’re going to have to keep blocking every new one that pops up and becomes and issue with a lawsuit,” said Snell.

“I for one use some file sharing sites for legitimate things so its tough to determine the validity when these sites appear on the network and the university would not want to take away tools from their educators or their students.”

According to WSU Services Communication Director Casey Hanson, it is the responsibility and in the best interest of all WSU faculty, staff and students to comply with University policies and procedures regarding computer and network usage.

“If a student is caught illegally downloading, IT administrators can suspend student network usage on any computer until they review and comply with federal laws and university policies,” said Hanson.

“Repeat offenders will be forced to report to the student conduct officials and go through their program of accountability.”

Baker said she typically does not see many repeat offenders and when she does, they learn the lesson after complying with her office’s online accountability program.

“We’ll have them attend a mandatory course and write a research paper about why the laws are there prompting them to educate themselves on why things are the way they are,” said Baker.

“When I first started working here in 2010, they were a lot more repeat offenders than there is now so I think we’ve cracked down on it.”


Jeff Snell- WSU Information Technology Administrator
Deborah Baker- Associate Director at WSU Student Conduct
Casey Hanson- Communications Director at WSU Services

Public Records Request

Send to:

WSU Office of Student Standards and Accountability
PO BOX 641062
Lighty 260, Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99162-1052

To whom it may concern,

My name is Zack Menchel and I am a student reporter in Benjamin Shors’ Com 425: Public Affairs Journalism class at Washington State University.

I am working on a story regarding WSU’s online policies, the scope of Internet crimes such as illegal file sharing and downloading on their network, and how these issues are dealt with.

I am writing your office today in order to formally request public records featuring statistics correlating to the number of incidents of illegal file sharing the university has experienced on their network over the last decade.

Please email the documents to or forward them to the address on the front of this envelope.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration and I look forward to your reply.

Zack Menchel
Murrow College of Communication ‘14


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