St. Cloud State University Policies & Procedures

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Current Status: Approved

Policy Type: All University

Department/Division: University

Effective Date: 08/29/2019

Last Updated: 03/31/2021

Applies To: Students, Faculty, Staff, Visitors

Responsible University Officer: President

Policy Owner: Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management

Policy Contact: Chief Information Security Officer, Associate Vice President for Strategic Communication

Rationale

Email expedites and reduces the cost of communications, helps to ensure timely receipt of announcements and notifications, and allows for verification of message delivery. Use of email is intended to meet the academic and administrative needs of the campus community.

Policy

St. Cloud State University (SCSU) recognizes email as an efficient means of gathering and disseminating information. SCSU students and employees will be able to access their SCSU email account once they activate their Star ID. Activation information can be found in the Technology Accounts policy (See the Related St. Cloud State University Policies section). This assigned SCSU email address will be listed as the individual’s designated contact email in Minnesota State, State of Minnesota or St. Cloud State University enterprise and records systems and shall remain active until deactivated according to system, state or university policy and procedure.

All SCSU email users are required to utilize email in accordance with all approved federal, state, Minnesota State, and SCSU statutes, policies, procedures, and use guidelines. Conduct which involves the use of information resources to violate a university policy or regulation or state or federal law, or to violate another's rights, is a serious abuse that may result in limitation of privileges, as well as appropriate disciplinary and/or legal action.

Email is recognized as a valuable communication tool available to all employees and shall be the official means of communication with students.  Employees who are on-duty or on-assignment and students are expected to receive, read, and if appropriate, act expeditiously upon communications distributed through SCSU email. Since email is the official means of communication to students, failure by a student to read their emails does not release them from being held accountable to or complying with the content of those emails. Employees and students will not be held responsible for failure to adhere to these expectations if they are prevented from doing so because of downtime or other problems with the St. Cloud State email system or servers. When communication is necessary with an employee who is not scheduled for a work assignment or is on-assignment at a location with no email access, or when another means of communication is specified in a bargaining agreement; other means of communication will be used in addition to or in lieu of email. 

Privacy and Right of University Access

SCSU does not routinely monitor all messages, however, it does have the authority, at any time, to inspect the contents of any University equipment, files, or mail on its system for any legitimate business, legal or disciplinary purpose. Reasons for review include, but are not limited to: reasonable suspicion of a violation of law or University policy; investigation into systems issues; litigation or anticipated litigation; or a need to perform work when an employee is not available.  Access by university personnel for university purposes does not alter intellectual property rights of employees or students.

Email users must understand that not all data is private or protected and SCSU must comply with laws governing the release of data. Much of the data created, received, or backed up on SCSU systems may be considered public, including some email communications, even those containing opinions or personal remarks. (See Related St. Cloud State University Policies)

Data Protection

Caution should always be used when emailing sensitive or confidential information. 

  • Senders must ensure that the email is properly addressed to the intended recipient email(s).
    • Use care in selecting “reply” or “reply all.”
    • Utilize “Bcc” feature when recipients should not be aware of others receiving the email message, or when the email addresses of recipients should be protected from disclosure.
  • If there is uncertainty about the risk of data going to email addresses outside of the SCSU email system, users may consider using the Minnesota State secure file sharing system (See Supporting URLs).
  • Users should be aware of the signs of potential email tampering or fraud such as hacking or phishing schemes. Such malicious activity on SCSU systems should be reported immediately to the IT Security Coordinator or forwarded to phishing@stcloudstate.edu.
  • Users must keep their account and password information private.
  • Users must lock work devices to avoid unauthorized access to email and other systems.
  • Employees must only disclose non-public data to persons who are legally entitled to access such data. Breaches or suspected breaches must be reported immediately. (See the Related St. Cloud State University Policies section below.)
  • Data, including official emails, should be maintained, archived, or destroyed per established retention schedules, record transfer procedures, and secure record destruction guidelines.

Appropriate Use

SCSU expects appropriate use of e-mail to enhance productivity through the efficient exchange of information in education, research, public service and the expression of ideas. Messages sent as electronic mail should meet the same standards for distribution or display as if they were tangible documents or instruments. It is unacceptable to use the University's system to engage in wasteful, disruptive, or unprofessional practices, such as creating or sending chain letters, “flaming” (hostile, bullying, threatening or harassing) email transmissions, non-SCSU sanctioned mass messaging or marketing practices, or otherwise engaging in email practices that might unnecessarily burden or even overload SCSU servers or systems.

SCSU provides two university email distribution lists (SCSU-Announce and SCSU-Discuss), and an electronic bulletin board, for use by faculty, staff, and administrators. Users may subscribe and unsubscribe from these distribution lists at any time using the link provided on the Information Technology Services webpage. Users can also find details about the purpose for each list and the bulletin board, as well as the guidelines users are expected to follow when using these optional services (See Supporting URLs).

Bulk Emails and Mailing Lists

This policy does not apply to email marketing efforts that may be included in a vendor contract, but rather is about informational or data gathering broadcast emails. The ability to regularly send non-marketing, non-commercial bulk email messages, whether to existing or newly created mailing lists, or to large or pre-defined target groups on campus is limited to specific departments and/or authorized employees.  This limitation is in place to restrict the number of bulk emails and the creation of mailing lists outside of secure systems, and to safeguard the value of email as a communication tool. It is also designed to ensure compliance with system and institutional policies and procedures, the University’s mission and vision, and desired communications strategies or best practices. 

The ability to send research related broadcast emails is determined on a case by case basis. The use of email to initiate contact with potential participants in research may not be sent without prior approval of the research protocol by St. Cloud State University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). Campus members who are not authorized to send bulk emails on a regular basis may make requests for both non-research and research bulk email distribution through the procedures outlined in this policy.

Procedure

Bulk Email Criteria 

Requests for all bulk email messaging must meet these criteria for consideration: 

  • The message must comply with FERPA, Minnesota State policies and procedures, and St. Cloud State policies and procedures, CAN-SPAM Act, and any other applicable state or federal laws.
  • The message must comply with SCSU Brand Guidelines.
  • The message must come from a valid St. Cloud State University email address.
  • The sender must provide contact information in, or at the end of, the body text of the message.
  • The message must be succinct and clear, and be targeted as much as possible to the individuals who need to receive the message.
  • The message should provide an essential communication related to the University or a University department, unit or program. Examples include, but are not limited to, information about university missions, operations, budgets, academics, health/safety, required notices or training, awards/accomplishments, and important news or events.
  • For messages including a survey, the survey instrument shall be created using a University contracted survey software provider or software that has been vetted and approved by the Minnesota State System Office of the General Counsel. Survey data may not reside in the body of the email, but shall be accessed via a link in the body of the email.

Bulk Research Email Additional Criteria 

These additional rules apply to mass email use in research:

  • Student email addresses are considered limited directory data at St. Cloud State University. They can be provided to conduct research for University purposes, including cooperative or collaborative research with other entities, but shall not be released to other entities for independent research not involving SCSU.
  • Researchers may only be provided mass email distribution lists for an IRB approved faculty or staff led research project, undergraduate research project, honors thesis, master’s thesis, or doctoral dissertation. The researcher shall not be given a distribution list unless approval by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) has been provided.
  • Individual email addresses will not be provided directly to the researcher. A list of email addresses will be selected based on the research protocol and a random sampling will be used. This distribution list will have a single address for the entire list while keeping the individual email addresses secure. The researcher will be given only the single address for the distribution list, and email recipients will only see that single address when the email is received.
  • The broadcast email must contain a statement about the University purpose of the email such that it is clear the researcher is abiding by the St. Cloud State University limited directory statement (See Supporting URLs).
  • The researcher must use their St. Cloud State University email address to send the broadcast email.
  • Emails must include the IRB approved Implied Consent language in the body of the email.

Bulk Email Requests

Bulk email Authorizing Units are listed in the Bulk Email Approval Table below. These authorizing units have the ability to regularly send bulk email for university purposes. Occasionally someone outside of the Authorizing Units may need to issue a non-marketing, non-commercial broadcast messages designed to convey information to large groups on campus, such as all students or all employees.  Such requests for broadcast email messages should be for a legitimate SCSU purpose and can be made by email to the appropriate Authorizing Unit who will consider the message for compliance with system and institutional policies and procedures. If a survey will be included with the message, the survey contents must be included in the request to the Authorizing Unit. The Authorizing Unit shall notify the requestor via email if the broadcast may be sent, or they may provide additional guidance to the requestor about their message or suggest another communication method. 

If a person wishes to send a message to a target group that does not already have an established mailing list they must first complete the data request form found on the Analytics and Institutional Research (AIR) website (see Supporting URLs). The Director of Analytics and Business Intelligence or other AIR employee shall seek permissions from the most appropriate Authorizing Unit based on the data requested.  Upon approval, the AIR division will submit an online request form to the ITS Help Desk to establish a bulk email address for the requested target group (see Supporting URLs).  The ITS Help Desk will provide a single bulk email address (a ListServ) to the requestor.

Bulk Email Approval Table:

Authorizing Unit

Mailing Lists

Examples of General Use

President's Office

all faculty, all students, and all staff

Alerts, significant announcements, policy changes impacting all or most of the community

Provosts Office

all faculty, students and staff in Academic Affairs

Important meetings and seminars, training, special faculty events, news

Graduate School

all graduate students

Community-wide announcements, special meetings, health insurance

Human Resources

all employees (includes faculty)

Matters related to employment: benefits, payroll, leave, years of service, retirement, training

Strategic Enrollment Managemet

all students

Matters related to admissions, retention, recruitment, registration

Student Life and Development

all students

Housing information, student services announcements

Analytics and Institutional Research

Customized mailing list based on request

Surveys, data gathering, or research (upon IRB approval), messages requiring a unique target group

Public Safety

All faculty, students, staff

Safety alerts and notifications, parking, transportation, city notices

University Communications

All faculty, students, staff

Campus e-Newsletter, general communications that do not fit under another Authorizing unit

 

Research Bulk Email Requests

The type of research that this section refers to is the type of research that requires Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. Research for bulk email in this section refers to the use of email for a systematic inquiry designed to develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge.  Members of the IRB can provide guidance on whether a survey or research email requires the following procedures. 

To request bulk email for research:

  1. Complete an IRB Application/Protocol and submit for review.
  2. Include details on the application about the participants for the bulk email.
  3. When applicable, seek a signed letter of cooperation from the external research site or cooperating organization or agency to document: 1) the cooperating partner’s understanding of the nature of the researcher’s work; 2) their commitment towards the project; and 3) their approval of the project as it relates to their involvement.
  4. Include a “script” of the Subject and Body of the email as well as the content of the survey.
  5. Upon IRB approval, a request for the required mailing list can be made by completing the data request form found on the Analytics and Institutional Research (AIR) website (see Supporting URLs).
  6. Email the Director of Analytics and Business Intelligence and cc. the IRB Administrator to notify that a research related request was submitted online. Attach the IRB approvals to this email so that the AIR team will know they have the proper permissions to gather the data and work with IT to create a single email address for the mailing.
  7. Review and comply with all criteria for bulk email and research bulk email.
  8. Review and comply with the Rules for Surveys if a survey will be included in the mailing.

Assistance:

For questions, concerns or complaints about:

  • Data privacy, email security, or ListServ guidance contact the Data Practices Compliance Official or IT Security.
  • Possible violations related to employee ethics contact Human Resources
  • Possible violations related to student code of conduct contact Student Life and Development
  • Possible violations related to email threats, harassment, or discrimination contact the Office for Institutional Equity and Access.
  • Possible violations related to email use in research contact the Institutional Review Board.
  • All other general email transactions or potential violations contact the Director of Information Systems or the Deputy Chief Information Officer.

See Supporting URLs for links to contact information.

Guidelines

Best Practices

In addition to becoming familiar with the policies and procedures linked in the Supporting URLs and Related St. Cloud State University Policies sections, email users might also benefit by following these best practices:

  • Keep email organized, and clear email that is no longer needed, to ensure ease of email search and sufficient space for incoming messages.
  • Keep subject lines and messages simple and direct to achieve a clear communication goal.
  • Refrain from making statements that you would not say to someone if you were face to face, or that you would not want to be made public.
  • Try not to read between the lines or jump to conclusions since it can be difficult to express and interpret emotion in text. Avoid using ALL CAPS or excessive punctuation that might be viewed as the email equivalent of shouting.
  • Understand that not everyone checks their email constantly throughout the day or is able to respond instantly. Be respectful of others’ time commitments and consider other communications methods for matters that need immediate response.
  • Use caution with humor – what you find funny, someone else might find offensive.
  • Use caution with slang, jargon, and acronyms that the intended recipient might not be familiar with or understand.
  • When attaching documents, use common file formats such as .doc, .xls, and .pdf that most recipients will have software, or can easily obtain software, to open.
  • Double check your entire email including the recipients before hitting the send button.

Keywords

Electronic communications, mass email, targeted,

Related St. Cloud State University Policies

Supporting URLs

Websites, Related External Documents, Statutes

Definitions

Bulk Email

A single email sent to an entire group of people at the same time. Generally this refers to a large target group, an entire population, or sub-group of a larger population.

Contacts

Responsible University Officer
   Wacker, Robbyn R.
   President
 
rrwacker@stcloudstate.edu
320-308-2122
Owner
   Woods, Jason L.
   Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management
 
jlwoods@stcloudstate.edu
320-308-5455
Contact
   Hanson, Eric J.
   Chief Information Security Officer
 
ejhanson1@stcloudstate.edu
320-308-3091
Contact
   Kloby, Kathryn
   Associate Vice President for Strategic Communication
 
kathryn.kloby@stcloudstate.edu
320-308-2104

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Non-St. Cloud State Users: Email comments to policy@stcloudstate.edu