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Use of Electronic Mail

*Note: Information Technology Policies are in the process of
review and will be updated throughout the year*
(July 1997)
With the availability of expanding access to electronic communications, including electronic mail (e-mail), comes the need for University policy to inform members of the University community (all those individuals who are using e-mail on university-issued accounts) on issues of appropriate use, privacy, and access of electronic mail. This document regarding the use of this technology in pursuit of the goals of the University. This policy refers only to unopened e-mail which has not been stored or saved. It additionally is not applicable to application and document files, networked or shared files, or databases. It is recognized that the law governing electronic communication technologies and the material transmitted using these technologies is in an early stage of development and that the policy statements in this document will change in response to changes in law and further development of electronic communications technology.
This policy will apply to all electronic mail accounts established by Oklahoma State University (Stillwater campus) for faculty, nonfaculty staff, and students. Persons who are given access to OSU's e-mail system are expected to familiarize themselves with and abide by the policies in this document. Violations of this policy will result in loss of e-mail privileges at the University, disciplinary action, or legal action where applicable.
Appropriate Use
  • As with other University resources, e-mail is made available to faculty, staff, and students to further the teaching, research, service, and extension goals and mission of the University. Use of the University's e-mail services, therefore, is intended to be in furtherance of such goals and mission and not for extracurricular purposes. Individuals may not use e-mail for entrepreneurial activities except in cases of University-sanctioned activities. Specifically prohibited is the selling of access to the Internet by any member of the University community.
  • No one shall be added to an e-mail mailing list for other than official University business without his or her consent. Mailing lists may be used only for their intended purposes.
  • Occasions arise when an individual may wish to solicit goods and services or to offer them to other members of the University community. For example, faculty and staff may wish to advertise a home for rent to incoming faculty or incoming faculty may wish to solicit rentals from the campus community. For such purposes, Usenet news groups or bulletin boards are available on University computer systems.
  • All materials sent by campus e-mail must be attributed to the individual, office, or organization sending the material. It is a violation of this policy to originate e-mail in such a manner as to create the impression to the recipient that the mail was originated from another source or individual.
Issues Related to Privacy
  • General Policy Statements.
  • Users of University electronic mail services are placed on notice that under the Oklahoma Open Records Act all records that are created by, received by, under the authority of, or coming into the custody, control, or possession of the University or University officials presumptively are public records. Such records include messages stored in an electronic or magnetic format. All e-mail communications, therefore, unless subject to a specific statutory privilege, are subject to production under the Oklahoma Open Records Act and, when relevant, to discovery in civil litigation. The federal Electronic Rights to Privacy Act will, in some instances, provide such a privilege to electronic mail which has not been opened and the University will observe and follow the requirements of all applicable state and federal statutes relating to privacy concerns in electronic mail.
  • For the purposes of this policy statement, the terms "unopened e-mail," "electronic mail which has not been opened," or similar references, applies only to electronic messages received by a user but which have not been opened by the user. Once a message is opened by the user it is no longer considered "unopened," even if such message has not been moved or otherwise stored in another location.
  • Individual Expectations.
  • E-mail messages shall be delivered to the addressees and not censored or interfered with in any way by the University.
  • Individually addressed e-mail communications may not be intercepted by any third party except as noted below. This does not prevent persons who have legitimately received electronic mail messages from forwarding such messages on to third parties.
  • Users of the University's e-mail services are required at all times to observe all laws relating to copyright, trademark, and trade secrets protection.
  • Account holders may not use encrypting programs when engaging in e-mail communications except as specifically authorized in advance in writing by CIS.
  • University Requirements.
  • University officers and supervisors shall have the right to read any e-mail when written permission for such access has been given by the individual.
  • Under certain circumstances the OSU Postmaster(s) alternate(s), or the Assistant Director, Technical Services, CIS, may, in the course of his or her professional duties, access an individual's e-mail for legitimate management or maintenance purposes. The Director of CIS shall designate in writing the identities of all such persons to the Provost.
  • If an occasion arises when a University officer or supervisor believes that access to an individual's e-mail account is required for the conduct of University business, the University individual is not available, and a system administrator is required to access the individual's e-mail account, the following procedure shall be followed:
  • The University official or supervisor shall secure permission to access the e-mail account from the Chief Academic Officer of this institution.
  • An appropriate form with the signature of the Chief Academic Officer shall be presented to the system administrator allowing the system administrator to proceed to access the e-mail account.
  • The individual whose e-mail account has been accessed will be notified as soon as possible by copy of the above referenced form. Where necessary to ensure the integrity of an investigation into the use of University computing resources, such notice, with the approval of the Chief Academic Officer of the University, may be delayed until such time as such investigation would no longer be compromised.
  • Prior to termination or resignation, faculty and staff members shall make all e-mail files related to University business available to his or her supervisor. 5. On termination or resignation, the individual's e-mail account will be terminated and all information not retained by the supervisor will be deleted.
Access to University Electronic Mail Accounts
  • Persons who desire to have e-mail accounts established on their behalf shall make application to Computing and Information Services. Requests from faculty, nonfaculty staff, and students asking for the establishment of an e-mail account normally will be honored. However, such an account is a privilege extended by the University and may be withdrawn by CIS at any time without prior notice. The establishment of an e-mail account does not grant or guarantee unlimited or unrestricted opportunities to use the e-mail account.
  • While account holders may expect reasonable access to e-mail, this cannot be guaranteed to be at all times and in all circumstances.
  • Violation of this Policy Statement may result in the loss of e-mail privileges at this University.
Objectionable Material, Violations and Sanctions
  • The University cannot protect individuals against the existence or receipt of material that may offend them. Those who make use of electronic communications are warned that they may willingly or unwillingly come across, or be recipients of, material that they may find offensive. Members of the University community are expected to demonstrate good taste and sensitivity to others in their communications.
  • It is a violation of this policy to use e-mail to libel, harass, or threaten other individuals.
  • Users of campus communications are subject to all applicable local, state, and federal laws and regulations, and Oklahoma State University policies and procedures.
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