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Electronic Communications Policy

A. Purpose 

Most members of the Trinity University community use email, text messaging, instant messaging, social media, and other electronic communications applications. Trinity University provides a @trinity.edu email address (Tmail) and extends email access and privileges to its students and employees to use in connection with their work and studies with the University. Tmail is hosted and supported by Google Apps. Email accounts should not be considered the property of the individual user who is assigned an account. All users of electronic communications should understand the responsibilities that accompany the use of these electronic communications. The Electronic Communications Policy addresses this responsibility.

 

B. Scope 

The Electronic Communications Policy applies to anyone using Trinity University’s computer systems, networks, and data systems. This includes faculty and staff members, students, alumni, contractors, guests, and other members of the University community.  

 

C. Policy 

Email Privacy and Confidentiality

Trinity operates the email system with full respect for privacy and confidentiality in accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and University policy. While Trinity permits limited personal use of the email infrastructure, those availing themselves of such privilege are subject to the same rules, regulations, laws, and policies as University business email. All users of electronic communications should understand the limitations of privacy and confidentially related to them. They should not be used for confidential communication or the transmission of sensitive data. See the University's Information Security Policy for additional information.

The Trinity University community should also be aware of the following issues regarding electronic communications:

  • Employees may use or distribute a work-related email or other electronically stored information only as is appropriate in the performance of the employee’s work responsibilities.
  • Tmail should not be used for commercial or political purposes.
  • Tmail should not be used for fundraising activities not endorsed by the University.
  • All Tmail users are expected to read all official University messages sent to their Trinity University email address and/or forwarded from their Trinity University email address to another email address, and will be presumed to have done so in a timely manner. The Trinity email system is an official means of communication. The university views communication via email to constitute being duly informed for faculty, staff, and students.
  • The Trinity University email system is a delivery system for communication and does not constitute a long-term storage system for documents delivered by email. Therefore, the email system ought not to be relied upon for the long-term retention of official records of the University. The University provides storage systems outside of the email system for long-term retention such as the network storage drive.
  • Users of the Tmail system do not have a right of privacy in communications transmitted or stored on University information technology resources. Thus, the @trinity.edu email address should not be used to send or receive personal email that a Trinity employee wants to keep private.
  • Emails are written records that could be subject to review with just cause. Email records and information in electronic form on central computers can be subpoenaed. Messages that the user has deleted may still exist on system's backup media for weeks or months.
  • Certain types of email and uses of email or other forms of electronic communications are prohibited; these include chain letters, obscene messages, harassing messages, and unsolicited political messages. Email that violates any University policy or is otherwise used for an illegal purpose is prohibited.
  • All email sent through the University's systems and network must accurately show from whom the email originated. Do not alter email headers to maliciously conceal or misrepresent the source of a message.
  • The University may employ automated systems to reduce the amount of unwanted "junk" mail. It is known that this may on occasion reject a valid email.
  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and Internet Protocol (IP) logs are retained for one week.
  • The limit for an attachment in Tmail is 25MB. With the addition of Google Drive, users can also send files up to 10 GB. 
  • Anyone who has a communication intended for distribution to the entire university community requires the approval and review of a Vice President.

 

Voicemail Use

The use of the Trinity University voicemail system should be used appropriately, efficiently in an ethical and lawful manner, consistent with University policies. Guidelines surrounding use of voicemail follow general rules of common sense and common courtesy, and include the following: 

  • Respect the privacy of others.
  • University voicemail system may not be used to defame, harass, intimidate, or threaten any other person(s), or to send unnecessarily repetitive messages.
  • University voicemail may not be used to publish, post, transmit, or otherwise make available content that is copyrighted, obscene, or legally objectionable.
  • Voicemail passwords and access to mailboxes should not be shared. Each individual is responsible for their own account. 
  • Do not forge or otherwise misrepresent your personal identity. This policy does not prohibit users from engaging in anonymous communications, providing that such communications do not otherwise violate one of the above stated policies.
  • Voicemail records go directly to Tmail and are retained until they are deleted in Tmail.

 

Accessing Email

Trinity University has the right and ability to access individual email accounts, despite the fact that a user has established personal login credentials. However, Trinity University and its agents or custodians of the email system will not access or disclose the content of an individual’s Tmail account unless the University has a good faith belief that the terms of acceptable use have been violated. In addition to a good faith belief of a violation, permission must be secured from the appropriate member of leadership designated for each constituency. They are as follows:

Constituency Authorized Leader
Faculty

Vice President for Faculty and Student Affairs 

Backup: Associate VP of Faculty Recruitment & Development*

Students

Vice President for Faculty and Student Affairs 

Backup: Associate VP for Student Affairs and Dean of Students*

Staff (all others)   

Vice President for Finance & Administration 

Backup: Assistant Vice President for Human Resources*

* In situations where the authorizers listed above are unable to perform this duty in the manner or time frame needed, an Officer of the College will assure decision authority. 

Although not a complete list, the following conditions represent potential situations for access:

  • Suspected violation of the law, regulation, or University policy.
  • Enforceable governmental request, a subpoena, or legal request to which the University is required to respond.
  • Suspected criminal conduct or to protect against harm to the rights, property, or safety of the University, its employees, or the public.
  • When information is necessary to conduct University business and the user of the account is unavailable.
  • When information is necessary to conduct University business and the user is no longer employed by the University.
  • A health or safety emergency.

Although not a complete list, the following conditions represent unacceptable access to an individual’s email account:

  • For any reason other than a suspected violation of the terms of acceptable use, or a safety or emergent situation
  • Curiosity
  • Permission from authorized leader is not requested or is not given
  • To bypass engaging an individual in conversation when that individual is available and there is not sufficient evidence to suggest an emergent situation

 

Access to Trinity Email - Employees

If a user is on leave from work, for any reason, a manager may be given access to that individual’s account for business continuation purposes. Whenever possible, arrangements should be made before a leave if the need for access is foreseeable. Managers will need to demonstrate to the appropriate authorizer why access to a user’s account is warranted and to the extent possible, access will be tailored to the need. Additionally, managers may request and be granted access to an individual’s email account upon termination of employment for business continuation purposes. In these instances, the manager will typically be granted access for a period no greater than one month after an employee’s last day of work. Exceptions may be made on a case by case basis with a compelling rationale. Upon the conclusion of this period, the account and its contents will be terminated.

When an individual terminates employment with Trinity University, it should be understood that access to an email account to retrieve "personal" information is not guaranteed. While Trinity University understands and allows reasonable personal use of its email system, users should take appropriate steps to ensure personal communications are secured/saved as desired. 

If it is necessary or desired that an individual maintain access to their account after termination, approval must first be secured from the CIO. Extension of access should be considered only if a legitimate business need is identified. Extension of use should not exceed three months. In such cases, the individual will be expected to adhere to the terms of acceptable use. 

In all cases, no person may retain a copy of any private or confidential work-related email or electronically stored information after the termination of employment without the written permission of the CIO.

Trinity University faculty designated "professor emeritus" will be provided a Trinity email account for life unless that account is found to be in violation of the University policies or if dormant and unused for more than one year. Those who resign will no longer have access to their Trinity email account effective on the date of resignation.

Trinity University email is hosted and supported by Google Apps. Google has signed a contract committing them to uphold a strict privacy policy and to always treat personal information with the utmost care and security. See Google’s Privacy Policy and Gmail Program Policies for additional information.

 

Access to Trinity Email - Students

Trinity network and Tmail accounts are provided for all students currently enrolled in at least one class in a Trinity undergraduate or graduate program and are not provided for life. Trinity student accounts will remain active for one year after graduation. An account will be marked as eligible for deletion when:

  • An undergraduate or graduate student has not registered for a class for one (1) year, which is defined as two consecutive semesters.
  • One (1) year after the student has graduated from the university and is not enrolled in graduate school.
  • The student has requested their account be deleted, provided they are no longer are affiliated with the University.

An account holder must adhere to the responsibilities and policies dictated in Trinity University's Information and Technology Responsible Use Policy and the Electronic Communications Policy during a temporary leave of absence or one year period following graduation.

This process describes this interruption and the steps toward permanently closing Trinity network and Tmail accounts:

  • Trinity network and Tmail account will be deleted one year after graduation. When an account has been marked for deletion, the student will receive an email notification to their Tmail account at least two weeks prior to deletion. When the account is deleted, the student will lose all access to any service which requires a Trinity username and password (i.e. Tmail, TigerPaws, Tiger’s Lair, TLEARN, library systems, use of the computer labs), and all files, websites, emails, and contacts stored on the Trinity servers will be permanently deleted.
  • It is the account owner's responsibility to manage his/her account responsibly, and to retain any required files on backup media. Students may download their email from their Tmail account for archive purposes or to be imported into other email applications such as Microsoft Outlook. Instructions on downloading from Tmail: Google.
  • In the case of a student who becomes an employee, their account will be migrated to the respective department. As the account will be moved and not deleted, all personal files, emails, and contacts will be retained in the account.
  • Accounts for those students who have officially withdrawn from the University will be deleted once the withdrawal process has been completed.
  • Trinity University email is hosted and supported by Google Apps. Google has signed a contract committing them to uphold a strict privacy policy and to always treat personal information with the utmost care and security. See Google’s Privacy Policy and Gmail Program Policies for additional information.

 

D. Definitions

These definitions apply to terms as they are used in this policy.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) – Used by network devices to obtain the parameters required for operation in an Internet Protocol network

Information and Technology Resources - The full set of information technology devices (telephones, personal computers, printers, servers, networking devices, etc.) involved in the processing, storage, accessing, and transmission of information owned by, controlled by, or contracted to Trinity University. Connection of these devices can be permanent, via cable, or temporary, through telephone or other communications links. The transmission medium can be physical (e.g., fiber optic cable via FTTX) or wireless (e.g.. satellite, wi-fi, Wi-Max).

Internet Protocol (IP) Address – The address of the client on the Internet which identifies the client making any given connection to a site. Every computer connected to the Internet has an IP address which enables the identification of that computer.

Recurring mass email messages - Mass email based messages that are sent by users, departments, or offices regularly or on a scheduled basis to many recipients of the Trinity University community. This includes, but is not limited to, newsletters.

Trinity email accounts - Individual email accounts provided by the university to students, faculty, and staff with an address of @trinity.edu.

 

E. Enforcement

To insure adherence to the Electronic Communications Policy and to protect the integrity of University resources, Trinity University reserves the right as described above to monitor the electronic communications across their systems to protect the security of the University’s information, network, computing resources, and its users.

Any behavior in violation of this policy is cause for disciplinary action. Violations will be adjudicated, as appropriate, by the CIO, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of Housing and Residential Life, and/or the Office of Human Resources. Sanctions as a result of violations of this policy may result in, but are not limited to, any or all of the following:

  • Attending a class or meeting on responsible use issues, as well as successful completion of a follow up quiz;
  • Loss of university computing, email, and/or voicemail privileges;
  • Disconnection from the residential hall network;
  • University judicial sanctions as prescribed by the student Code of Conduct;
  • Monetary reimbursement to the University or other appropriate sources;
  • Reassignment or removal from University housing and/or suspension or expulsion from the University;
  • Prosecution under applicable civil or criminal laws.

 

F. Reporting Violations 

Reports of problems or violations should be made through the Campus Conduct Hotline, which is a confidential, anonymous way to alert administrators of unsafe or unethical behavior. Phone 866-943-5787 or email cch [at] eiia.org. Further information can be found at http://www.campusconduct.com