Web Advertising and Sponsors Policy

As a public university, WMU is subject to federal and state laws regarding sources of income, political activities, use of property and other matters.

Furthermore, .edu domains are intended to designate non-commercial, academic websites.

Furthermore, the University has exclusivity agreements with certain vendors to provide certain products and services. Such agreements may or may not include noncompetition clauses for advertising in campus facilities or via University media.

The University, therefore, has a vested, legal interest in all forms of sponsorship and advertising that might appear on official University Web pages.

Definitions

"Advertising" is defined as offering space on a University Web page to a third party (non-WMU) for the purpose of promoting or marketing any product, service or cause, in exchange for compensation.

"Donors" are defined as those who contribute to the University through the WMU Foundation and are eligible for tax-deductible consideration as defined by the International Revenue Service.

"Sponsors" are defined as those who make contributions to University activities, which might typically include local retailers, who may anticipate public recognition or other benefits for their contributions.

A. Commercial advertising

Consistent with existing WMU Rules For Use of Computing Resources, which prohibits commercial use, it is University policy to prohibit commercial advertising on all wmich.edu Web pages.

Commercial advertising may be permitted on University-owned .com domains, provided a request to include advertising was part of the original or supplemental WMU application to purchase and maintain a .com., .net or other domain.

B. Political advertising

Political advertising is expressly prohibited on all websites and pages funded in part or whole by Western Michigan University or maintained in part or whole using any University resources.

This prohibition does not extend to materials presented as part of closely related academic instruction; political or public policy information presented in a factual, nonpartisan fashion; publicity of political speakers or events at WMU; views expressed on personal pages; or views expressed on Web pages of registered student organizations.

C. Sponsor listings

Listings of sponsors of a specific event or series of events are permitted. Example: A list of local retailers sponsoring Bronco Bash or other student activity.

Listings that imply sponsorship of a WMU website or page, or of a University college, department, office or other unit are prohibited. WMU is the exclusive sponsor of all University units and Web pages.

Sponsor listings may contain any or all of the following:

  • Simple text listing of sponsor names, addresses, phone numbers and/or Web addresses
  • Sponsor logos
  • Web links to sponsors' websites

Web sponsor listings may not contain hours of service, price information, inducements such as coupons or special offers, or any information other than that listed above. Such additional information might constitute commercial advertising, which is prohibited.

D. Donor listings

Donor listings are permitted on WMU Web pages. Recognition of persons and organizations supporting the University, its academic programs, its students and faculty, and other activities through charitable gift contributions as defined by the Internal Revenue Service and as recognized by the WMU Foundation are permitted.

There are specific IRS regulations with regard to limits on donor recognition and other benefits given to donors. To protect the tax-deductible status of donor contributions, departments are strongly encouraged to contact the WMU Foundation before publishing any donor listings.

E. Powered by

Co-branding of WMU Web pages with third-party providers of software and services through the use of phrases such as "powered by" or "provided by" is prohibited unless stipulated by contract with the third-party provider, or required as a function of identifying ownership via copyright or similar notation. When necessary, such listings should be in the footer of the Web page and appear as text only in the least prominent manner possible.

F. Other forms of promotion

WMU receives dozens of requests every month to place links on WMU Web pages to third-party commercial sites, sometimes with the enticement of special discounts for WMU students, employees or alumni. There are some instances in which such links are a legitimate service to the WMU community, such as links to area hotels and motels found on the Visit WMU pages.

To help assure consistency, all requests for links to third-party commercial sites should be sent to the director of electronic communication, Office of University Relations, for review and approval. Decisions of the director may be appealed to the Web Governance Council.

These restrictions do not extend to related professional organizations, honor societies, or associations of which Western Michigan University is a member.

Exceptions

Web pages promoting affinity programs and business partnerships duly approved by appropriate officers of the University are exempt from all restrictions except those relating to donor listings and political advertising.

Other specific exceptions must be approved in writing by the Web Governance Council or by the director of electronic communication as authorized by the council to act on its behalf.

Application and enforcement

The purpose of this policy is to have a set of standards for advertising and sponsor listings on WMU Web pages that can be applied equitably across all areas of the University. If absolutely necessary, the University, through various offices, has the physical ability to remove any noncompliant or offending material from University Web servers and to cancel any third-party Web hosting services purchased in the name of the University.

Approved May 28, 2009
Amended July 30, 2009
Web Governance Council