WMU Email Rules

Purpose

This policy establishes rules for the appropriate use of Western Michigan University's email system.

Scope

The use of Western Michigan University's email system is a privilege, not a right and is subject to limitation and/or revocation. In addition to these email rules, the use of electronic communication is subject to all University policies, procedures, rules, directives, and the law (collectively "rules"). These rules apply to:

  • All email systems and services provided and owned by the University;
  • All users, holders, and uses of University email services and computing resources; and
  • All University email records in the possession of University faculty, staff, or students or other email users of email services provided by the University.

These rules apply equally to transactional information (such as email headers, summaries, and addresses) associated with email records as it does to the contents of those records.

Policy statements

User Identity: All email systems must have unique user-IDs and associated passwords to isolate the mail of different users. Misrepresenting, obscuring, suppressing, or replacing a user's identity on an email system is forbidden. The user name, email address, organizational affiliation, and related information included with email or postings must reflect the actual originator of the mail or postings.

No guaranteed message privacy: Western Michigan University cannot guarantee that email will be private. Email can be forwarded, intercepted, printed, and stored by others. Generally, WMU's email systems are not encrypted. WMU respects the rights of its employees; however, WMU is also responsible for servicing and protecting its email systems. Although mail is not routinely monitored, the University may monitor or access email if the University suspects or is advised of possible breaches of security, harassment, or other violations of other University policies, rules, regulations, directives, or law, or evidence exists which demonstrates to the University that email contains information, data, or other intellectual property that belongs to another person. Only the president, chief technology officer, or the vice president for legal affairs and general counsel may authorize access to email under these rules and that authorization shall be in writing.

Where feasible and practical, the person whose email is being accessed will be given notice of such access in advance. However, where, in the judgment of the president, chief technology officer, or vice president for legal affairs and general counsel, such notice would be contrary to the University's interest, such notice will not be provided. Any person whose email is accessed without advance notice will be notified that his or her email account has been accessed as soon after such access as is practically feasible, unless compelling or legal reasons approved by the Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel dictate otherwise. Supervisors who want to access a subordinate's email must contact the Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel in advance. Yearly, the Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel will report to the Faculty Senate the number of times authorization to access email has occurred.

Some system administrators have access to email by way of automated systems, such as undeliverable email, and may have to access email for routine maintenance of systems and for specific system problems. Such administrators will take precautions to ensure that they view only those portions of email necessary to perform their duties. System administrators accessing legally protected or confidential information or records shall not disclose, copy, or otherwise disseminate any other information or records unless authorized by the chief technology officer or the vice president for legal affairs and general counsel.

Other than as provided for in this paragraph, employees may not access the email of another employee or student in the absence of the consent of the person whose email is being accessed. The improper access of the email of another shall be subject to appropriate discipline and shall be reported to the chief technology officer.

In addition, email prepared by public employees using University resources may be subject to disclosure under state and federal law and may constitute documents that are subject to disclosure in administrative or legal actions.

Contents of email: Email is treated as any other form of communication and all University policies, rules, handbooks, contracts, and directives, including sanctions, apply to the content and use of email including, but not limited to, the University sexual harassment policy, the anti-discrimination policy, and the policy pertaining to workplace threats and violence.

Purging email: Email systems are not intended for archival storage. Employees are responsible for periodically purging email from their personal storage areas. The University reserves its right to limit capacity on individual accounts for archival storage and other University purposes.

Justification

WMU's email systems are provided for the support of the University's mission, including education, business, and research. Personal use may be permissible if, in the determination of the University, it does not interfere with the University's mission or preempt normal business/educational activity, does not impede employee productivity, does not interfere with or negatively impact any other person's or entity's rights and work/learning environment, does not conflict with any rule or law, and does not consume more than a trivial amount of resources.

Notwithstanding the above described acceptable trivial personal use, unless authorized in advance by the University, employees are not permitted to use WMU's email or resources for personal commercial or business activities, personal charitable endeavors, illegal political or other activities, to send or forward chain mail, or for any other purpose or activity prohibited by the rule(s) or law.

Enforcement

These rules shall apply except where conflicting provisions of a duly authorized collective bargaining agreement or other contract expressly provide otherwise. Individuals who violate these rules may have their email privileges revoked and shall be subject to sanctions, disciplinary action, and/or other legal action.

Reference

Document action 

Revised June 2008