• Home
  • Electronic Mail Policy
Policy
Purpose: 

To define appropriate use of electronic mail in the University

Applies to: 

This policy applies to faculty, staff, students, official university affiliates, and any other individuals who use University electronic mail. This policy applies to all units on the KU Lawrence and Edwards campuses.

Campus: 
Lawrence
Edwards
Policy Statement: 

The University of Kansas (Lawrence and Edwards Campuses) provides electronic mail [1] for use by students, faculty, staff, and others affiliated with KU. The University encourages the appropriate use of email to further its mission goals. KU provides email for use when engaging in activities relating to instruction, research, clinical and public service, and management and administrative support. KU also permits incidental personal use provided that such use does not interfere with KU operations, does not generate incremental identifiable costs to KU, or does not negatively impact the user's job performance. [2]

KU email may not be used for commercial purposes, for personal financial gain, to distribute chain mail, or to support outside organizations not otherwise authorized to use University facilities. Individuals who wish to use KU email in support of external organizations (charities, for example) must secure written or email approval of the provost and executive vice chancellor (provost) or the provost's designee. The provost ordinarily will approve such use only when it furthers KU's mission and goals.

Registered student and campus organizations such as the College Republicans or the KU Young Democrats may use their membership list-serves to notify members of meetings, speeches, or rallies. Faculty members may use electronic systems for course-related discussions of political topics. Individuals may use email to exchange ideas and opinions, including those dealing with political issues. The latter is generally considered an incidental use of the email system. However, KU email may not be used to support external organizations, partisan political candidates, party fundraising, or causes. [3]

The University supports a climate of trust and respect and does not ordinarily read, monitor, or screen electronic mail. However, complete confidentiality or privacy of email cannot be guaranteed. Confidentiality cannot be guaranteed because of the nature of the medium, the need for authorized staff to maintain email systems, and the University's accountability as a public institution. The provost or provost designee may authorize access to employee or student email in a number of circumstances including, but not limited to, situations involving the health or safety of people or property; possible violations of University and Board of Regents codes of conduct, regulations, or policies; possible violations of state or federal laws; subpoenas and court orders; other legal responsibilities or obligations of the University; or the need to locate information required for University business.

The University routinely uses email for both formal and informal communication, including emergency messages, with faculty, staff and students. Faculty, staff, and students are required to register an email account or utilize a University-provided account during their enrollment or employment at the University. These addresses are used for University business and official University communications. All faculty and students, and all staff who have access to email, are expected to check their email regularly for University communications. Official University communications include, but are not limited to, enrollment information, grade reports, financial statements and other financial information, library overdue notices, and policy announcements.

KU email may be used to survey students, faculty, and staff. Requests to conduct surveys through email should be directed to the Office of the Provost.

Because use of broadcast email places stress on the email system, it is Lawrence campus policy to use the broadcast function very sparingly. In addition to the business communications cited above, it is used for messages from the Chancellor's Office, the Provost's Office, or other offices about mission-related matters or issues of broad interest to the University community, and for emergency messages dealing with power outages, street closings, or other public safety matters. Any request to use broadcast email to contact students, faculty, or staff, including survey requests, must be approved in advance and in writing or by email by the Office of the Chancellor or the Office of the Provost.

The broadcast function generally is not used to announce events such as concerts, theatre performances, conferences, symposia, or colloquia sponsored by KU units or organizations. Public events sponsored by KU units or registered student and campus organizations may be announced in KU Today, the electronic newsletter produced by News and Media Relations and posted on the electronic KU calendar (for instructions, see Submit KU News.) News and Media Services regularly broadcasts a complete KU Calendar of Events.

KU email accounts remain the property of the State of Kansas. The University disables accounts after graduation or separation from the University.

Exclusions or Special Circumstances: 

Recourse/Appeals:

If there is disagreement with an employment action or student disciplinary action made under this policy, appeals must be directed through existing University appeal procedures established for employees and students.

The University reserves the right to grant continued access to electronic mail on a case by case basis for business and University related purposes.

Consequences: 

Violation of this policy may result in the full range of sanctions, including the loss of computer or network access privileges, disciplinary action, suspension, termination of employment, dismissal from the University, and legal action. Some violations may constitute criminal offenses under local, state, and federal laws. If appropriate, the university will carry out its responsibility to report such violations to the appropriate authorities.

Employment actions should be handled by the appropriate department with the advice and guidance of Human Resources and the Office of the General Counsel. Student disciplinary actions should be handled by the appropriate department in collaboration with Student Affairs.

Contact: 

Policy Office
785-864-9600
policy@ku.edu

Approved by: 
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Approved on: 
Sunday, March 1, 1998
Effective on: 
Sunday, March 1, 1998
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
Definitions: 

[1] "Email" refers to the direct or remote use of, or access to, KU's central or peripheral computer hardware, software, networks, or other related systems or support services, to generate, transmit, store, or otherwise manipulate electronic mail, electronic mail attachments, or other such messages by computer or other electronic devices. Use of electronic bulletin boards, electronic mail lists ("listserves"), account passwords, logon IDs, headers, and "signatures" are included in this definition.

[2] This statement is consistent with the policy dealing with "Commitment of Time, Conflict of Interest, Consulting and Other Employment" contained in the Kansas Board of Regents Policy and Procedures Manual (II.C.12).

[3] This statement is consistent with Kansas law and Board of Regents policy on political activity cited below:

Kansas Statutes Annotated (KSA) 25-4169a. Use of public funds, vehicles, machinery, equipment and supplies and time of certain officers and employees to influence nomination or election of candidate prohibited; exceptions; misdemeanor.

  1. No officer or employee of the state of Kansas, any county, any unified school district having 35,000 or more pupils regularly enrolled, any city of the first class or the board of public utilities of the city of Kansas City, Kansas, shall use or authorize the use of public funds or public vehicles, machinery, equipment or supplies of any such governmental agency or the time of any officer or employee of any such governmental agency, for which the officer or employee is compensated by such governmental agency, to expressly advocate the nomination, election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate to state office or local office. The provisions of this section prohibiting the use of time of any officer or employee for such purposes shall not apply to an incumbent officer campaigning for nomination or reelection to a succeeding term to such office or to members of the personal staff of any elected officer.
  2. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a class C misdemeanor.

Kansas Board of Regents Policy and Procedures Manual (II.C.13.d):

In the interest of the fullest participation in public affairs, personnel are free to express opinions speaking or writing as an individual in their personal capacity and not as a representative of the institution in signed advertisements, pamphlets and related material in support of or opposition to parties and causes.  There shall be the commensurate responsibility of making plain that each person so doing is acting for himself or herself and not on behalf of an institution supported by tax funds drawn from citizens of varying political and economic views.

Keywords: 
E-mail, Electronic Mail, Monitoring, Commercial Purpose, Incidental Use, Political Activity, Official Communication, Broadcast Email
Review, Approval & Change History: 

02/10/2017: Updated KBOR links & references. Grammar edit & sentence added to exclusions & special circumstances section. Updated Contact Information.

06/14/2016: Updated his designee to provost designee in policy statement.

04/02/2015: Fixed broken links to Board of Regents Policy Manual.

12/17/2014: Fixed link to Board of Regents Policy Manual.

11/24/2014: Added link to Board of Regents Policy Manual.

10/17/2014: Policy formatting cleanup (e.g., bolding, spacing).

07/10/2012: Updated by the Policy Office to reflect a change in the responsibility for publishing the University Calendar of Events.

06/30/2008: Revisions effective

11/18/2002: Revisions effective

03/2002: Revisions effective

03/1998: Developed by the Office of the Provost in consultation with University Governance and approved by the provost.

Information Access & Technology Categories: 
Information Technology

Can't Find What You're Looking For?
Policy Library Search
New Policies in the last 30 days
KU Today
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times