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UW-Whitewater Email Policy

Purpose of the Campus Email System

In support of instruction, research, and administrative functions, the University encourages the use of campus email system to share information, to improve communication, to transact university business, and to exchange ideas.

This document defines and clarifies policies and procedures where existing law and organizational policy do not specifically address issues particular to the use of email. This policy applies equally to transactional information (email headers), the content of the message, and attachments. This policy does not apply to printed copies of email. However, other University policies do not distinguish among the media in which records are generated or stored. Email use is governed by policies that apply to the use of all University facilities.

The University encourages the use of the campus email system and respects the privacy of users. The University recognizes that academic freedom and freedom of speech are important aspects of the campus email policy. The University does not routinely inspect or monitor email. However, the University may deny access to the campus email system and may inspect, monitor, or disclose email when circumstances indicate such action is necessary.

Access to the campus email system is ordinarily limited to faculty, staff, and students for purposes that conform to this policy; these accounts are created automatically when an employee is hired or when a student attends preview or transfer registration session and is enrolled in at least one course. Examples of other categories which may be eligible to request a campus email system account include, but are not limited to: emeriti faculty, exchange students, participants in educational programs, contractors, independent consultants, official campus student organizations, and departments.

Appropriate Use

Those who use the campus email system are expected to do so responsibly, that is, to comply with state and federal laws, with this and other policies and procedures of the University, and with normal standards of professional and personal courtesy and conduct.

The campus email system may be used for incidental personal purposes provided that such use does not:

  1. interfere with the operation of campus email system
  2. burden the University with noticeable incremental cost
  3. interfere with the user's employment obligations

The University, in general, cannot and does not wish to be the arbiter of the contents of email. The University cannot protect users from receiving email they may find offensive. Users of the campus email system, however, are strongly encouraged to use the same personal and professional courtesies and considerations in email as they would in other forms of communication.

Mass emails intended for large segments of the University, such as all staff, faculty, or the entire student body, must be sent to the Campus Announcement Board; once the message is approved it will then be released. Discretion should be used when sending messages to large segments of the University as many recipients perceive them as junk mail and find them offensive.

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Inappropriate Use

The campus email system may not be used for unlawful activities, commercial purposes not associated with the University, or uses that violate other University policies or guidelines. Allegations concerning the misuse of the campus email system involving faculty or staff should be communicated immediately to the Dean of the appropriate college, or to the supervisor. Allegations involving students should be communicated immediately to Dean for Student Life Office.

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Access Restrictions

Access to the campus email system is may be wholly or partially restricted by the University without prior notice and without the consent of the email user when:

  1. required by and consistent with law
  2. when there is reason to believe that violations of policy or law have taken place
  3. when the continued access/use of an individual’s account significantly affects the integrity, performance, or security of the campus email system

The email user will be notified of the reason and duration of the access restriction as soon as possible. Access will be restored when the situation has been resolved.

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Security

The University attempts to provide a secure and reliable campus email system. However, such professional practices and protections are not foolproof and the security and confidentiality of campus email system cannot be guaranteed. Furthermore, administrators of the campus email system have no control over the security of email that has been downloaded to a user's computer. Users of the campus email system are expected to take appropriate security measures. Users should take proper precautions in keeping passwords confidential.

In order to prevent a practice known as "spoofing", UW-W will block all emails indicating that they were sent from UW-W email addresses that do not originate from UW-W email servers. Exceptions may be granted based on need and available technology.

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Confidentiality

Confidentiality of email may be compromised by the applicability of law or policy, including this policy, by unintended redistribution, or because of the inadequacy of current technologies to protect against unauthorized access. Users, therefore, should exercise extreme caution in using email to communicate confidential or sensitive matters.

Users should be aware that system administrators need to, from time to time, observe certain email transactional addressing information to ensure that the campus system is functioning properly. On these and other occasions, the contents of an email message may be inadvertently displayed. Except as provided elsewhere in this policy, they are not permitted to view the contents intentionally or disclose or otherwise use what they have seen.

Beyond system administration needs, the University shall only permit the inspection, monitoring, or disclosure of email without consent from the account owner when authorization for such access has been obtained in writing by the appropriate authorizing official based upon the chart below. Once authorization is obtained, the actual inspection, monitoring, or disclosure of email will be executed with the least action necessary to resolve the situation. This authority may also be exercised by the Chancellor or Vice Chancellor without regard to the status of the affected individual. The authorization shall be in writing and shall be based on a request submitted in writing.

Email User Status Authorizing Official
Faculty & Academic Staff Provost- Academic Affairs, after consulting with the UW Legal Counsel and with the written advice of the Chair of the Faculty Senate / Academic Staff Assembly, may so authorize the Department/Unit Head or Dean.
Student (Not acting in a capacity of a staff employee) Assistant Chancellor - Student Affairs, after consulting with the UW Legal Counsel, may so authorize the Dean of Students.
Classified Staff, Employee or Student in a capacity as a Staff Employee Vice Chancellor- Administrative Affairs, after consulting with the UW Legal Counsel and/or Campus Human Resources, may so authorize the Department/Unit Head or Dean.

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Open Records Access

For open records access requests and the subpoena of computer materials, state and federal regulations apply. In regard to open records access requests, email delivered to the university is considered to be an open record, much like a written or printed document, and can be requested. As is the case of all open records access, only items which are readily available need be supplied. Email messages retained in your mailbox (either on the server or on your workstation) would be regarded as readily available and would have to be supplied if requested. Backup copies of email messages are not readily available and would not be supplied if requested. Therefore, once an email message is deleted and purged from your mailbox and/or local workstation storage, it does not have to be supplied in response to an open records access request.

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System Backup

The campus email system is backed up solely for the purpose of restoring the entire electronic mail system in the event of a disaster or system failure. Backup tapes, in most cases, may not be used for restoration of individual mailboxes and may not be used as a convenience to retrieve "deleted" messages.

Backup tapes do not serve a records retention function. Each employee/department must make provisions to retain documents and messages in accordance with their departmental records retention policy. The retention requirement associated with any document is determined by its content, not the method of delivery. The responsibility of retaining an internally created and distributed document (or message) most often falls on the author, not the recipients. Recipients may delete such received messages when their use has been fulfilled.

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