Electronic Mail Policy
Administering Office: Office of the CIO
Approved by: ITPC
Posted: February 22, 2006
University electronic mail accounts are provided and supported by the State of North
Carolina to support the missions of the University.
The purpose of this Policy is to ensure the appropriate use of the University’s Electronic
Mail System by its students, faculty, and staff. The Electronic Mail System is provided
by the University as one of its primary means of official communication. Users have
the responsibility to use these resources in an efficient, effective, ethical, and
lawful manner. Use of the University’s electronic mail system evidences the user’s
agreement to be bound by this Policy. Violations of this Policy may result in restriction
of access to the University email system and/or other appropriate disciplinary action.
The Information Technology Division maintains the University’s official Electronic
Mail System. Faculty, staff, and students are required to read their Electronic Mail
System messages on a regular basis. Faculty, staff, or students who choose to use
another email system are responsible for receiving University-wide broadcast messages,
notices, and personal mail by checking the University's official electronic mail system
and the University’s World Wide Web homepage. An alternate method of receiving University
electronic mail is to utilize the Forwarding Feature, which can be set to forward
mail to an individual's personal email account. An Electronic Mail System message
regarding University matters sent from an administrative office, faculty, or staff
member is considered to be an official notice. Supervisors must ensure that their
University staff and faculty have access to the necessary or appropriate messages
distributed via the University’s Electronic Mail System.
PERSONAL USER OF ELECTRONIC MAIL SYSTEM
The University’s Electronic Mail System may, subject to the foregoing, be used for
incidental personal purposes provided such use does not violate either this policy
or University Policy #52. In addition, personal use must not interfere with University
operation of information technologies, including electronic mail services, generate
a direct cost for the University or interfere with the user's employment or other
obligations to the University.
Privacy of personal electronic mail content residing on or transmitted through University
equipment should not be expected. No University faculty member, staff member, or student
should use a University Electronic Mail System account with the expectation that any
particular Electronic Mail System content, whether personal or business-related, will
PRIVACY OF EMAIL FILES
The University does not inspect or monitor electronic mail routinely. To the extent
permitted by law, however, the University reserves the right to access and disclose
the contents of faculty, staff, students’ and other users’ electronic mail without
the consent of the user. Access to electronic mail on the University's computers that
involves reading or disclosing electronic mail may occur only where authorized by
the University and only for the following purposes:
- troubleshooting hardware and software problems, such as rerouting or disposing of
- preventing or investigating unauthorized access and system misuse
- retrieving or reviewing for University purposes University-related information;
- investigating reports of violation of University policy or local, state, or federal
- investigating reports of employee, student or user misconduct;
- complying with legal requests for information (such as subpoenas and public records
- retrieving information in emergency circumstances where there is a threat to health,
safety, or University property involved.
Users of the Electronic Mail System also should be aware that, in addition to being
subject to authorized access as detailed herein, electronic mail in its present form
cannot be completely secured and is, therefore, vulnerable to unauthorized access
and modification by third parties. Receivers of electronic mail documents should check
with the purported sender if there is any doubt about the identity of the sender or
the authenticity of the contents, as they would with print documents.
Users of the Electronic Mail System also should be aware that even though the sender
and recipient have discarded their copies of an electronic mail record, there may
be back-up copies of such electronic mail that can be retrieved on University systems
or any other electronic systems through which the mail has traveled.
Access by authorized University employees to electronic mail stored on the University's
network of computers may be necessary to ensure the orderly administration and functioning
of University computing systems. Such access, gained for purposes such as to back
up or move data, ordinarily should not require the employee gaining access to the
electronic mail to read messages. The University requires employees, such as system
administrators, who as a function of their jobs routinely have access to electronic
mail and other electronically stored data to maintain the confidentiality of such
LIMITATIONS ON THE USE OF ELECTRONIC MAIL SYSTEM
The legal and regulatory environment surrounding the University’s Electronic Mail
System creates a number of other limitations on the use of the University’s Electronic
Mail System accounts. Most apply uniformly to the use of all State-provided resources.
They may be briefly summarized:
Electronic Mail System accounts are for the exclusive use of the individual to whom
they are assigned.
No use is permitted that conflicts with the requirements of civil or criminal law,
including but not limited to laws relating to the privacy of student and employee
records, pornography, defamation, intellectual property infringement, and illegal
discrimination, or conflicts with any applicable policy of the UNC Board of Governors
or Western Carolina University (including University policy #52), such as use in support
of partisan political activities.
No use is permitted that constitutes the unauthorized exchange of proprietary information
or any other privileged, confidential, or sensitive information.
The knowing transmission of a message containing a computer virus or that misrepresents
the identity of the sender is prohibited.
The use of or attempt to use the accounts of others without their permission is prohibited.
Personal use cannot interfere with a University employee’s obligation to carry out
University duties in a timely and effective manner.
The personal use cannot involve sending or soliciting chain letters or sending unsolicited
bulk mail messages (e.g., “junk mail,” “spam,” or “MLM”), or otherwise overloading
the University’s electronic mail system or negatively interfering with system performance.
Uses that result in commercial gain or personal profit are not permitted, except as
allowed under University intellectual property policies and the external activities
for pay policy; however, in no case may the University’s Electronic Mail System be
used for solicitation of an unrelated, external activity for pay. See University Policy
54 for EPA employees and University Policy 87 for SPA employees.
No personal use may state or imply University sponsorship or endorsement of its message.
ARCHIVING ELECTRONIC MAIL SYSTEM MESSAGES/RECORDS RETENTION AND DISPOSITION
Electronic mail created for business purposes by University employees is a public
record and, as such, may not be disposed of, erased, or destroyed unless permitted
by law. Just as in the case of hard copies, individual employees are responsible for
saving or archiving their Electronic Mail System messages. Electronic Mail System
messages that have reference or administrative value but are of a temporary, ephemeral,
or transient nature may be deleted when the user has determined that their reference
value has ended.
Just as in the case of hard copies, the retention period for electronic mail that
must be retained is determined by the type of document being retained. The North Carolina
University Records Retention and Disposition Schedule followed by the University,
contains required retention periods by category of record. If you have questions about
retention periods, please contact the Head of Special Collections in Hunter Library.
Electronic mail may be retained electronically or it may be printed and retained as
a hard copy. Due to limited resources, the Information Technology Division has the
right to restrict the amount of user space on the primary message server or archive
older messages on other servers as necessary.
Electronic Mail System accounts of students who have not registered for a semester
will be purged after 30 days. Accounts for faculty/staff who have left the University
will be frozen within two working days after the person’s last day and will be deleted
after 30 days. This period can be extended for up to three months for faculty and
staff if requested by their supervisor before the employee’s last day.
OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY ELECTRONIC MAILS
Not all written communication is appropriate for the Electronic Mail System. In fact,
in certain limited situations, the law may require the use of paper originals delivered
via regular mail. In other situations, good business practice may call for not only
a paper original but, for example, one that is sent by certified mail, receipt requested.
When using the Electronic Mail System as an official means of communication, students,
faculty, and staff should apply the same professionalism, discretion, and standards
that they would use in written business communication. Furthermore, students, faculty,
and staff must remember that matters communicated via the Electronic Mail System may
become a public record, may become evidence in a law suit or may otherwise be shared
with a broader audience than intended.
Students, faculty, and staff may not inappropriately disclose University information
in Electronic Mail System messages that they are privileged to access because of their
position at the University
Those wishing to transmit broadcast electronic messages, either to an on or off campus
audience, containing essential University announcements to alumni, students, faculty,
and/or staff must obtain approval from the appropriate administrative authority. Within
the scope of their authority, only the Offices of an Associate Vice Chancellor, Vice
Chancellor, or the Chancellor may authorize the transmission of broadcast messages
to a wide audience of students, faculty, and staff. Appropriate broadcast of electronic
messages may include, but is not limited to, the following types of announcements:
- Emergency or unforeseen campus-wide events notification (e.g., cancellation of classes
or closing of the University due to inclement weather or emergency);
- Important campus deadline notification (e.g., last day of drop/add for students);
- Improved services to students, faculty, or staff that directly impact all members
of the affected group.
By contrast, broadcast electronic messages should not be used for non-essential matters
such as publicizing campus events. Broadcast email messages should be sent only to
the affected group (students, faculty, or staff, or a subgroup of one of those groups)
and should be of critical importance to that group.