CSU Policy: Electronic Communications to Students

Policy Title: Electronic Communications to Students Category: Information Technology
Owner: Vice President for Information Technology Policy ID#: 4-1018-015
Contact:
Academic Computing and Networking Services
Web: http://www.acns.colostate.edu
Phone: 970-491-5133
Original Effective Date: 4/27/2015
Last Major Revision: 3/25/2018
Print Version: Click Here to Print

PURPOSE OF THIS POLICY

This policy exists to define the environment for students to receive official University communications that are necessary for their activities at CSU. Such communications shall be limited to those essential to the conduct of their education in the broadest possible sense, including their residential needs. Communications to students must be relevant and pertinent to them as individuals, and used respectfully and sparingly so as to avoid communication fatigue. There are various elements covered by this policy, encompassing their CSU electronic identity, and the infrastructure used for such communications, as detailed below.

This policy limits the use of certain information systems and data provided by the university for purposes of communicating with students via email and text messaging.

APPLICATION OF THIS POLICY

This policy applies to all university units and employees, with respect to official university email communications to students.

POLICY STATEMENT

Official communications from the University to its students are critical to student success, safety of the university community, and efficient operation of the institution. However, when such communications are too frequent or of limited interest and importance, students may become accustomed to tuning these messages out, and the effectiveness of the university’s communication tools will be diminished. In order to avoid this, such communications must be carefully managed, limited and monitored. Electronic communications to students using university email systems and text messaging are subject to the provisions of this policy.

POLICY PROVISIONS

CSU Electronic Identities

CSU requires every student to have an email account, identified as firstname.lastname@rams.colostate.edu, to be used for official university email communications that are critical to the student’s success.

Official University communications may also be delivered via SMS (text messages), and students are asked to provide their cell phone numbers upon matriculation to the University. However, not all students have an SMS capable device and not all students have provided a cell phone number to the University.  Thus, it cannot be assumed that one can text message all students in a particular class. For those who do have such a device, official University communications that are critical to the student’s success may be delivered as text messages. 

Limitations on Mass Communications

Email and text messaging to students on a campus-wide scale must be centrally originated and managed. The Division of External Relations will initially review all proposed mass text messages and all emails to be sent using the University’s central email system, known as Emergency Mail. The Office of the President will have final authority to approve all such messaging before it is sent.

Emergency Mail will not be used for announcement of events, messages of general interest, or fundraising. Any other system that has the capability of generating an all-student mass email communication, such as the Division of University Advancement’s database system, will not be used to do so as an alternative to Emergency Mail.

Other Communications Tools Available for University Business

Rather than using Emergency Mail, university business units may use several email systems that allow for targeted email messaging to students for official university business purposes only.

RamSelect

RamSelect is an email system that allows business offices of the university to generate emails to students’ CSU email accounts while specifying parameters that include or exclude certain students. For example, RamSelect allows academic departments to send an email only to students in a certain college or major, or only to students who might share a specific academic interest, such as seniors in a department who may be interested in internship opportunities, or who need to know an upcoming academic deadline. Use of RamSelect, and any successor system or tool to RamSelect, shall be limited as follows:

  1. Its primary use will be by the Office of the Registrar, Office of Financial Aid, Business and Financial Services, Vice President for Student Affairs, academic departments, student advisors, and for essential business of Collaboration for Student Achievement, Continuing Education, International Programs, and other core advising offices.
  2. It may also be used for essential communications regarding campus safety/Clery Act communications, required institutional surveys, and alerts approved by the above offices or the Office of the Provost. Because of the nature of these essential communications, students cannot “opt out” of receiving emails in RamSelect.
  3. Non-academic messages of general interest are better addressed through systems other than RamSelect, including RamLink, SOURCE, and other university-operated systems and publications. Designated university departments will continue to have access to use the RamSelect system to generate email address lists for the purpose of sending non-critical, official business-related messages to students who have affirmatively expressed an interest in the subject matter. The message subject line shall be informative as to their source and subject matter and must be used consistently so that students will be better able to determine where such messages are coming from and set their own message filters accordingly. Each university business unit or employee using the RamSelect system will be expected to exercise good judgment to assure that emails to student email accounts are for official business purposes, not sent to an unduly large number of recipients, or to students who may have no interest in the subject matter, and properly identified as being from the department or office involved. Examples of messages for which RamSelect may be an appropriate choice include invitations to nominate faculty for the Alumni Association Best Teachers Awards and information about how students can pick up their tickets for the CU-CSU game. Examples of messages for which RamLink or another tool is a better choice include all messages sent to general student populations, general news about programs and events, and the election of officers of a registered student organization.
  4. RamSelect is for institutional use only. Email lists generated from the RamSelect system shall not be provided to non-affiliated external users such as private businesses, sponsors, or non-profit agencies.
RamLink
  1. RamLink is a tool developed by the Student Leadership, Involvement & Community Engagement (SLiCE) office as a centralized portal for student involvement. This occurs through the tracking and attendance of events, involvement in organizations/departments, recommendation of activities to get involved in, tracking of service hours, and the creation of the Leadership & Involvement Record.
  2. Registered Student organizations (RSOs) can use RamLink in multiple ways. RamLink serves as a tool for organizations themselves to register and be officially recognized by CSU. RSOs are able to recruit and retain new members, current members, and alumni. In addition, RamLink allows RSOs to maintain records and transfer those easily to the next set of elected officers. RSOs have the ability to create events to advertise to all students, or only to those who register an interest in a particular organization or event; track service hours for individuals; maintain attendance records (for both meetings and events); and create an atmosphere of green record-keeping, advertisement, and maintenance. Additionally, RamLink allows for RSOs to connect to multiple methods and forms of social media without having to recreate an event or advertisement in that media form. RamLink offers a mechanism for students to affirmatively express an interest in certain activities via opt-in registration, and thus should be used for communications concerning such activities, rather than RamSelect.
  3. University departments can use RamLink in the same way as RSOs can. RamLink offers an opportunity to engage students with non-academic experiences by opting in to receive emails from the activities of their choice.
  4. RamLink shall not be made available for use by non-affiliated (external) users.

Other Systems and Tools for Emails to Students

The university has several other systems and tools that have the capacity to generate lists and/or send messages to student email accounts. Canvas, ARIESweb, SOURCE, and RamLink are among those designed to serve departments, organizations and members of the university community whose legitimate university business purposes require sending emails to students. For more information on gaining access to these systems and their appropriate uses, see the links listed under References, below.

Other systems and tools owned and controlled by the university include (but are not limited to) Emergency Mail and various listservs that can be used to message student email accounts. All such systems and tools shall be strictly limited and controlled so that they are used only for their intended purposes.

Email lists generated through RamSelect or any other university system or tool will not be provided to non-affiliated external users (commercial or non-commercial) except where required by contract or for official business purposes of the university. Commercial messages and general announcements not directly related to official university business, or otherwise not appropriate for RamSelect or RamLink, may be communicated in official university publications such as SOURCE, Colorado State Magazine or the Rocky Mountain Collegian newspaper.

Text Messaging

Text messaging, also known by the official name of Short Messaging Service or SMS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMS) may also be used for official University communications, but is limited to life and safety alerts, and alerts that are critical to their education, such as academic alerts from advisors and instructors, or critical alerts from the CSU offices defined in item 2.a above that are particular to individual students (for example, wait listed for a course section, inaccurate processing of an application of financial aid form, etc.).

COMPLIANCE

Misuse of a university email system to send email messages to students in violation of this policy may be grounds for disciplinary action under the applicable student or employee conduct code in accordance with university policies and procedures. Such violations may also result in revocation or restriction of access to university systems.

REFERENCES

APPROVALS

Approved on November 30, 2012 by Amy L. Parsons, Vice President for University Operations

Revision 1.01, 11/18/2014, changed "Today@Colorado State" to SOURCE

Revision 1.02 approved April 27, 2015 by Amy L. Parsons, Vice President for University Operations

Revision 2.0 approved June 19, 2017 by Lynn Johnson, Vice President for University Operations

Revision 3.0 approved March 25, 2018 by Lynn Johnson, Vice President for University Operations

 

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