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9.7.1 Procedures for use of Mass Electronic Communication

I. Introduction

These procedures establish the appropriate use of Illinois State University's information technology resources, computers, networking systems, information, and data, collectively defined here as ISU Information Technology Resources and Systems to send permitted mass electronic communication as defined by the Policy on Campus Mass Electronic Communications.

II. Definitions

Mass Electronic Communication - Any electronic communication of the same message, in multiple or single distribution, to 100 or more individuals. This includes communication of differing wording that conveys the same message as well as communication sent on behalf of the University through Internet Service Providers other than Illinois State University. Mass electronic communication includes, but is not limited to, messages distributed electronically using voice, video, text or other graphic or texting technology.

Communication Channel - A pre-defined university pathway for the delivery of mass electronic communication to a specific group of individuals. 

Spam - An unsolicited electronic communication, outside of the scope of the University mission, which is sent to a group of individuals, on-campus or off-campus, without their permission.

Listserv(s) – A software program that automatically distributes email to individuals subscribed to the email list.

My.IllinoisState.edu - Campus web-based access to University resources where information presented is personalized to individuals based on their role(s) within the University community.

ULID - A University Logon Identification which is the electronic user name assigned to members of the University community when their personal campus Internet services are activated.

Opt-in and Opt-out - Subscribers to mass email listservs may elect to opt-in to a list (subscribe) or opt-out of a list (unsubscribe). A no-opt-out list provides no option for an individual to unsubscribe them self from the list membership.

Subscribed membership - The following types of subscribed membership for mass electronic communications are defined:

  • Subscribed-with-permission. A list made up of individuals who have explicitly given prior permission to be added to the membership of a list.
  • Subscribed-implied-permission. A list made up of individuals who have indirectly given permission to be contacted electronically.
  • Subscribed-without-permission. A list made up of individuals who have not given their permission to be added to the membership of the list.

On-campus Communication - Mass electronic communication that is sent by any member of the University community (faculty, staff, students, etc) to another member of the University community. In most instances, while not exclusively, this will be via desktops or servers within the ilstu.edu or IllinoisState.edu domain, or any of its sub-domains.

Off-campus Communications -  Mass electronic communication that is sent by a member of the University community to any non-University individual.

Administrator - A person officially recognized by the University as having responsibility over a campus unit and its faculty and staff. In the case of an academic unit, the administrator’s responsibility would extend to students who are officially participating in academic programs under the responsibility of that administrator. An administrator may appoint a designee for a mass electronic communication but retains responsibility for the communication.

Special Communications Channel Approval - An approval process whereby a department or area may request special access to one or more of the University’s mass electronic communication channels for a special communication over an extended period of time.

Campus Emergency - An unforeseen situation that threatens university employees, students and campus visitors or causes physical or environmental damage. Campus emergencies include, but are not limited to, the following: Tornados, Fires, Explosions, Floods, Civil Disturbances, Chemical Spills, Radiological Incidents, Toxic Gas Releases and Workplace Violence.

III. Campus Channels for Mass Communication

The University provides primary mass communication channels for members of the University community to send information electronically to, and engage in discussions with, selected campus groups. Those primary mass electronic communication channels are as follows:

  • President’s all-campus mass email (opt-out not permitted)
  • Vice Presidents’ mass email groups (opt-out not permitted)
  • General campus mass email groups (opt-out permission optional)
  • My.IllinoisState.edu announcements (opt-out not permitted)
  • Individual emails to fewer than 100 recipients (opt-out by request)

President’s All-Campus Mass Email

This communication channel is reserved for messages where urgency is necessary or where the message is of sufficient importance that all members of the campus community need to be informed. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Crisis or urgent announcements: bomb or terrorist threat, natural disasters, mechanical failures, weather closures or delays, crime alerts, major computer or network alerts.
  • Logistic announcements: construction closures, traffic routing and environmental alert notices.
  • Major campus events: naming of a new president or other key administrator, change in campus policy affecting all constituents, major class registration changes, major payroll or financial alerts, any other situation that may have an impact on the functioning of the University as a whole.

The President shall be the administrator of this communication channel. This is an announcement-only channel. The membership setting for this channel is subscribed-without-permission for the entire campus community; opt-out is not permitted. Announcements through this communication channel shall contain an official broadcast footer.

Vice President’s Mass Email Groups

These communication channels are reserved for transmitting urgent messages or messages of sufficient importance that all members of predefined University populations need to be contacted. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Policy and procedure updates
  • Faculty, staff, or student governance issues
  • Personnel appointments
  • Strategic messages from the president, provost, or one of the vice presidents
  • Financial, administrative, or event deadlines that are time-critical
  • Announcement of time-sensitive importance that are critical for a given group

The Administration of the following predefined groups has been designated to a specific Vice President:

  • Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost: All Campus Faculty (FAC-L).
  • Vice President for Finance and Planning: All Campus Administrative/Professional Staff (AP-L) and All Campus Civil Service Staff (CS-L).
  • Vice President for Student Affairs: All Campus Students (ISUSTUDENTS-L).
  • Vice Presidents are granted access to all mass email groups as needed.

The appropriate Vice President shall be the administrator of their communication channel. These are announcement-only channels. The membership setting for these channels are subscribed-without-permission for the entire campus community; opt-out is not permitted. Announcements through these communication channels shall contain an official broadcast footer. Care should be taken to ensure that mass email announcements of interest to all faculty and staff are sent simultaneously to the Faculty (FAC-L) listserv, the Administrative/Professional Staff (AP-L) listserv, and the Campus Civil Service Staff (CS-L) listserv.

General Campus Mass Email Groups

This communication channel is the preferred channel for sharing campus information and discussions of mutual interest among a wide variety of groups within the campus community. It is the most flexible of the campus mass electronic communication options and uses email listserv technology for implementation. All mass email groups require designating a person to be the owner of the group. Several options are available:

Subscribed-with-permission, opt-out permitted - Anyone on campus may establish such a communication channel for any group of staff and/or students with a common interest. Membership in the listserv may not be pre-subscribed, and individuals must have the option to opt-out of the listserv at any time. No approval is needed to establish this type of electronic communication.

Subscribed-without-permission, opt-out permission optional - Any administrator may establish such a communication channel for faculty, staff, and students under their scope of responsibility. The administrator may decide if the list members may opt-out. Choosing to not permit opt-out should be used with discretion.

Announcement versus Discussion - Any email listserv within the mass email group channel may be established for announcements only (read-only list) or as a discussion listserv. With a discussion mass email group, members of the group may respond to postings from the group. For a discussion group, the owner, or designated moderator, has responsibility for managing the electronic discussions. This person has the responsibility of keeping the discussion on topic and ensuring that the email postings adhere to the campus Appropriate Use Policy. Campus webboards and chat groups may be considered as another alternative to discussion listservs.

My.IllinoisState.edu Announcements

My.IllinoisState.edu provides personalized access to campus information. It is recommended that the mass email groups and My.IllinoisState.edu be used together to provide the widest possible announcement distribution.

A person using My.IllinoisState.edu sees only the information targeted to the role or roles that person holds within the campus community (student, faculty, staff, etc.) as well as membership within degree programs, committees, groups, organizations, departments and units, and the like.  Campus-wide My.IllinoisState.edu announcements will be administered by the President and Vice Presidents and follow the same procedures as the mass email channel. The membership setting for this channel is subscribed-without-permission; opt-out not permitted. Group announcements will follow the same procedures as the mass email group channel.

Individual Emails to Less Than 100 Recipients

Any member of the University community can send individual email messages to one or more individuals; current restrictions limit the number of individuals to fewer than 100, either in multiple or single mailings of the same or similar message. Any member of the University community needing to communicate regularly with 100 or more individuals should use the General Campus Email Groups.

Originators should use discretion when sending to groups of individuals without their permission. Sensitivity should be shown to the sender-receiver relationship, and the sender should discontinue sending to anyone who indicates they do not wish to receive further communication. Failure to acknowledge such a request will be in violation of the campus Appropriate Use Policy.

Campus Emergency

In the event of a Campus Emergency the University retains the right to notify the campus community without prior permission using any means necessary.

IV. Restrictions on Composing Messages for Mass Communication

When composing a message to send through any of the mass communication channels, all of the following must be included and the following restrictions apply:

Subject line - Subject header must be clear and concise. This line must not be left blank.

Approval notification - All messages that are subscribed-without-permission/no-opt-out must state that the message is authorized under the Campus Mass Electronic Communication Policy and provide a web link to that policy. The list owner should be clearly identified.

Opt-out notification - All messages that have subscribed-with-permission/opt-out membership must state that the individual may opt-out of additional messages and provide a contact and a web link for instructions for doing so.

Identification - Sender identification is critical and all messages must contain a valid reply-to email address.

Message length - The message length should be kept as short as possible. Detailed information should be placed on a web page with a web link in the email message.

Attachments - Do not include attachments.

Messages - Messages should be written using proper grammar, language, punctuation, and adhere to university standards.

Content - The content of the Web site referred to in the message approved by the appropriate administrator at the time of the request will not be substantially altered after approval has been granted.

V. Communication between Instructor and Students

The mass electronic communication policy is not meant to interfere with the ability of an instructor to establish communication with students in a class. For classes with more than 100 students, the General Campus Email Group Procedures should be followed. Instructors may choose subscribed-without-permission, opt-out not permitted, for students in their classes for the current semester only. Webboards and chat groups may also be considered as alternatives for a class listserv.

VI. Requesting Mass Email Communication Lists or Portal Announcements

Requests for creating mass email lists for Mass Email Group Channels should be directed to Computer Infrastructure Support Services (ciss@ilstu.edu).  Requests for creating My.IllinoisState.edu Announcements should be directed to Institutional Web Support (iwss2@ilstu.edu). You will be asked to provide information concerning the scope of the campus membership to be used, the choice of communication channel, opt-in or opt-out status, and other information necessary for constructing the list and determining the list’s scope and appropriateness.

Subscribe-without-permission/no-opt-out lists must be approved by the appropriate Vice President or designee with the exception of lists for class instruction. The person requesting the list will receive email notification when the list has been reviewed and approved, or not approved.

VII. Sending Surveys to On-Campus Recipients

The University recognizes the importance of research as part of its academic mission. These procedures support the need for academic researchers to use mass electronic communications as a research tool. Procedures are defined for deploying these tools for on-campus and off-campus research in appropriate ways to ensure that such communication is viewed by the recipient as an academic activity, and not as unsolicited and unwanted email.

To facilitate on-campus surveys for institutional and instructional research needs, all members of the campus community will be pre-subscribed to a campus-wide pool from which survey samples may be drawn. When an individual activates their campus ULID they will automatically be added to the central survey pool. All individuals will have the option to opt-out of this pool by un-checking the survey membership option on their personal ULID password web page either at the time they activate their ULID or any other time they wish to change their preference. The following restrictions apply to the use of the campus-wide survey pool:

  • All on-campus research surveys must be approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). All other surveys must be approved by the administrator that oversees the sample population (e.g., a department chair for students within their academic area or the Vice President for Student Affairs for a campus-wide survey of students).
  • Samples drawn from the survey pool will be provided as a subscribed-with-permission/opt-out listserv to be used only for the duration of the survey.
  • The sample survey listserv may only be used for communication to the sample population, not for the survey instrument itself.
  • To maximize resource efficiency, Survey instruments should not be embedded or attached to the mass emails (e.g., use web-based surveys).
  • The principal investigator must be clearly identified in all communications.
  • The Subject line of the mass-email must use the prefix “RESEARCH:” for IRB approved research projects and “SURVEY:” for all other campus survey activities.
  • All communication to the survey sample must make clear that there are two methods to opt-out of surveys, for the present survey or for future campus surveys. To opt out of a single survey, the individual should be given a way to contact the principal investigator. To opt out of future campus surveys, the individual may change their opt-in preference on the ULID password change Web page.

VIII. Sending Communications and Surveys to Off-Campus

Given the sensitive issues surrounding mass emails in the Internet community at large, discretion needs to be used when considering this channel of communication. With the University’s dual role as Internet Service Provider (ISP) and educational institution, any unsolicited mass email sent off-campus may be interpreted as spam mail.

The ramifications of this are far-reaching and include negative publicity for the University, potential violation of state law, violation of Internet carrier appropriate use policies, and electronic blacklisting by spam filtering services. To minimize the likelihood of these events, follow these procedures for off-campus mass email including the use of mass email for survey and research purposes:

  • The communication must be related to the mission of the University.
  • Subscribed-without-permission, no-opt-out membership for off-campus mass-email is not permitted.
  • Subscribed-with-permission, opt-out membership is to be used in all circumstances except those noted below. No approval is needed to establish the channel of off-campus communication.
  •  Research surveys require Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval.
  • Subscribed-implied-permission, opt-out membership may be used in special circumstances. Those exceptions include:
    • Recruitment of students where the student has indicated an interest in the University through an official procedure tied to the admissions process. Use of mass email to this group requires the approval of the Provost or designee.
    • Alumni, donors, or “friends” of the University where fund-raising, event notification, or maintaining alumni-University relations is concerned. The scope of such communication is limited to those who have implicitly or explicitly provided their email address to the University, indicating an interest in outreach activities. Use of mass email to these groups requires approval of the Vice President for University Advancement or designees.
    • Off-campus research surveys where the sampling pool is derived from mass email lists where individuals have indicated a willingness to be included based on membership in an organization or an affiliation with a common group interest
  • The following criteria should be applied when evaluating the validity and appropriateness of an off-campus list, be it subscribed-with-permission or subscribed-implied-permission:
    • The individual members of the list must have given permission for the use of their email address either explicitly or implicitly;
    • The technique for obtaining membership should be clearly defined; and
    • Every effort should be made to ensure that the lists are valid and from reputable sources.
  • The Subject line in the email must use the prefix of “Illinois State University:”. The message should begin with wording to the effect: “Illinois State University is contacting you in order to…,” “Your name and email address was obtained through…,” “Please let us know if you do not want to be contacted further….” Variations that meet the spirit of this wording may be approved by the appropriate VP. Approved IRB research surveys may use a different protocol.
  • The message should be as short as possible, deferring any significant information to the web, and end with an option to be removed from the list with instructions, and a link to this policy document. The survey instrument should not be included in the body of the email or as an attachment (e.g., use a web-based survey).

IX. Critical Communications to Campus Populations Not Accessible Electronically

It is the responsibility of the sender of mass electronic communication to ensure that communication intended to notify or inform campus faculty and staff with critical or urgent information also be published using a non-electronic method. This is to include those that, due to the nature of their job responsibilities, do not have access to electronic communication.

X. Special Approvals

A University department or area requiring access to one or more of the University’s mass electronic communication channels for a special communication over an extended period of time may request a special approval. Requests must be submitted in writing to the appropriate mass communication channel administrators and must state the circumstances surrounding the special need.

If approval is granted, the University department or area may continue to reissue the mass electronic communication without further approval until such time as the special need no longer exists or until such time as the approval is withdrawn.  Such special approvals shall not relieve a department or area from complying with all policies and procedures established by the University.

XI. Complaints

Anyone who receives a mass electronic communication from a member of the Illinois State University community that appears to be in violation of the Campus Mass Electronic Communications Policy may take the following steps: First, the recipient should contact the original sender of the message and/or the associated administrator to seek resolution. Second, after allowing proper time if a resolution is not reached, a complaint should be filed with the University’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

The CTO will then consult with the appropriate administrator(s) and a decision as to whether to treat the matter as an Appropriate Use Policy violation will be made. Violations of appropriate use will be handled following the process defined in the Appropriate Use Policy. To report improper mass electronic communication received from external Internet Service Providers (ISPs), it is recommended that complaints be filed with that ISP according to their procedures (usually to an "abuse" or "postmaster" address).


Last Review: December 2010

2018-12-07T11:07:31.854-06:00 2018