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Business Policies - Electronic Mail Policy

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TO: All Members of the University Community 2000:05
DATE: April 2000

Electronic Mail Policy


    This Policy clarifies the applicability of state and federal laws and of Ferris State University policies to electronic mail, and also sets forth guidelines applicable to electronic mail. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that:

    • The University Community will use electronic mail in an ethical and considerate manner in compliance with applicable laws and policies, including policies and guidelines established by the University and its operating units, and with respect for public trusts through which these facilities have been provided.
    • Electronic mail users are informed about the concepts of electronic mail privacy and security, as well as the applicability of relevant policy and law.
    • Disruptions to University electronic mail and other University services and activities are minimized.
  2. SCOPE

    This policy applies to all electronic mail services provided by Ferris State University, on and off campus, to all users of such services, and to all electronic mail records in the possession of University employees on University equipment.


    Electronic mail is a University asset and a critical component of the campus communications systems. Ferris State University provides the electronic mail system for employees to facilitate the performance of work. The contents of electronic files on University equipment are legally considered property of Ferris State University. Electronic mail is intended to support teaching, learning, research, and administrative activities at Ferris State University. Personal use is permitted as long as such use does not interfere with Ferris State University's business or educational procedures.

    The University Community will use electronic mail in accordance with policies, guidelines, and procedures and "Conditions of Appropriate Use" established by the University and its operating units.

    In accordance with this policy, the University works to create an intellectual environment in which students, staff, and faculty may feel free to create and to collaborate with colleagues both at Ferris State University and other institutions.

    Access to electronic mail at Ferris State University is a privilege and must be treated as such by all users. Access to electronic mail requires that each user accept responsibility to protect the rights of the University and the surrounding community. Any member of the University Community, who does not follow the University Electronic Mail Guidelines, has engaged in unprofessional, unethical, and/or unacceptable conduct.

    To ensure the continued existence of electronic mail at Ferris State University, the University Community will take actions, in concert with state and federal agencies and other interested parties, to identify, develop, and implement technical and procedural mechanisms to make electronic mail resistant to disruption.

    Users must guard against abuses that disrupt and/or threaten the long-term viability of the system at Ferris State University and those beyond the University. Members of the University Community shall act in accordance with these responsibilities, this policy, relevant laws, contractual obligations, and the highest standards of ethics.


    Ferris State University characterizes as unacceptable, unprofessional, unethical, and violations of University policy, and/or criminal law, any activity through which an individual:

    • Interferes with the intended educational use of electronic mail.
    • Seeks to gain or gains unauthorized access to electronic mail.
    • Without authorization, destroys, alters, dismantles, disfigures, prevents rightful access to or otherwise interferes with the integrity of computer-based information and/or electronic mail.
    • Without authorization attempts to or invades the privacy of individuals or entities that are creators, authors, users, or subjects of electronic mail.
    • Uses the University's electronic mail for commercial purposes and/or personal financial gain without prior supervisory approval in accordance with other University policies.
    • Uses the University's electronic mail for any unlawful or immoral purpose which include, but are not limited to, the access to or transmission of any: obscene materials, pornographic materials, threatening, harassing or discriminatory materials.

    In accordance with established University practices, policies, procedures, and collective bargaining agreements, such misuse of Ferris State University electronic mail may result in termination of electronic mail access, disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment and/or legal action.

    Individual units within the University may define "conditions of use" for facilities under their control. These "conditions of use" must be consistent with this overall policy but may provide additional detail, guidelines, and/or restrictions. Where such "conditions of use" exist, enforcement mechanisms defined therein shall apply provided that disciplinary action, if any, shall be consistent with applicable University practices, policies, procedures, and/or collective bargaining agreements.


Richard Duffett, Vice President
Administration and Finance


Contact: Information Services & Telecommunications

This policy was adapted with permission from a policy by The Office of Information Technology Policy Studies, Information Technology Division, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104