Mass Email Policy

The purpose of these standards is to provide for mass emailings at Western Michigan University that are accurate, concise, consistent and coordinated; to maximize efficiency of the University's email system; and to reduce the number of unsolicited email messages sent to faculty, staff and students, without unduly restricting the free flow of information on campus.

Justification

The cumulative amount of time spent each day by students, faculty and staff on unsolicited mass email messages represents an enormous loss in personal and institutional productivity. In an open community of 30,000 people, some regulation of mass email is necessary.

Scope

These standards apply to all mass email messages sent to wmich.edu email accounts.

Definitions

Mass email is defined at WMU as any unsolicited message sent to more than 50 addresses in a day, 500 in a month, or 5,000 in a year. These quotas are well within the limits established by the federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 for defining what constitutes spam email messages.

Unsolicited messages include those the recipients did not specifically request or subscribe to receive, or would not expect to receive as a normal part of their roles as students or employees.

Messages sent to members of a specific group and official University messages are exempt from the quotas listed, but are not exempt from the standards for message composition.

Messages to members of a group

Typical groups at WMU include students enrolled in a specific class, faculty and staff in a specific department or office, and members of specific student or employee organizations or committees. The person(s) in authority in the group shall determine what messages are appropriate for distribution within that group, but only within that group.

Messages sent to members of a specific group are exempt from the quotas, such as 50 addresses in a day, but are not exempt from the standards for message composition. "All undergraduate students" or "all faculty members," are examples of broad classifications, not specific groups, and are not exempt.

Official messages

Official messages are exempt from the quotas, but are not exempt from the standards for message composition.

Official messages are those authorized by the president of the University, senior academic officer, senior business officer, senior student affairs officer, chief information officer, or by university relations, which serves as the clearinghouse for mass email messages. All mass messages not originating with the president or other senior officers listed must be sent to university relations, which is responsible for determining what messages, from both external and internal sources, are appropriate for dissemination using the University's email system.

University relations will regularly distribute a mass email compilation of campus announcements, WMU Today, to reduce the number of separate mass email messages.

Standards for message composition

All mass email messages must conform to the following standards.

  • All email addresses, except that of the sender, must be concealed, either as part of a concealed email list or by blind copying all recipients. By leaving email addresses exposed, you surrender control of your list, making it easy to duplicate, and you have exposed recipients to the potential of undesired contacts.
  • Messages must include within the text of the message contact information for the person, office or group sending the message. Minimally, the contact information must include a phone number and an email address.
  • Messages must be clear, concise and no longer than the equivalent of one printed page in length. Additional information should be made available via a Web link in the text of the message.
  • No attachments of any type are permitted with mass email. Not all recipients will have compatible software to read all attachments. The most efficient way to present additional information is to include a Web link in the text of the message.
  • Messages should be composed in plain text only for accessibility and compatibility across the broadest range of email clients and devices. Messages composed in html also are more likely to be identified as spam and blocked or filtered by the mail client or server of some recipients.

Third-party mass email services

A variety of third-party mass email services, such as Vertical Response and Constant Contact, are used by various offices and departments of the University. Any messages sent through such a service on behalf of an office or program of the University must comply with applicable anti-spam laws and must provide the recipient with a legitimate option to opt-out of all future mailings.

Access to WMU email addresses for research

Access to WMU email addresses for survey research is limited to WMU students, faculty and staff, in most cases requires approval of the Human Subjects Institutional Review Board, and in all cases requires approval of the chief information officer of the University. Individuals should read and fully understand WMU's rules on the use of mass email for research before seeking approval. For more information about using email for research, contact the chief information officer.

Submitting requests

Requests for mass email messages should be sent to the director or assistant director of electronic communication in university relations. Requests for access to email addresses for research should be sent to the chief information officer.

Contacts

Dan Lobelle
Director of Electronic Communication
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433
(269) 387-8423 or 387-8400
daniel.lobelle@wmich.edu

Cara Barnes
Assistant Director of Electronic Communication
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433
(269) 387-8435 or 387-8400
cara.barnes@wmich.edu

Dr. James A. Gilchrist
Vice Provost and Chief Information Officer
Office of Information Technology
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5206
(269) 387-2382
james.gilchrist@wmich.edu

Adoption and revisions

These standards are based on best practices, applicable law and technical capabilities at the time of the latest revision and will be updated periodically as technology and other factors change. All of the standards presented here are consistent with those of the federal CAN-SPAM (“Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing”) Act of 2003.

Approved: Dec. 15, 2005
Last revised: April 29, 2013
WMU Senior Leadership Team