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Electronic Mail Policy

Chapter 3455
Revised September 2, 2010; Revised January 9, 2023

Table of Contents

.010 Introduction
.020 Policy
.030 Related Kansas Law and Board of Regents Policy
.040 Questions

.010 Introduction

This Policy clarifies the applicability of law and certain other University policies to electronic mail. Users are reminded that all usage of K-State's information technology resources including electronic mail is subject to all University policies including K-State's Information Technology Usage Policy.

.020 Policy

The University encourages the use of electronic mail and respects the privacy of users. Nonetheless, electronic mail and data stored on the University's network of computers may be accessed by the University for the following purposes:

For items A-G, the extent of the access will be limited to what is reasonably necessary to acquire the information and/or resolve the issue.

  1. troubleshooting hardware and software problems,
  2. preventing unauthorized access and system misuse,
  3. retrieving University business related information, *
  4. investigating reports of alleged violation of University policy or local, state or federal law,*
  5. complying with legal requests (e.g.; court orders) for information, *
  6. rerouting or disposing of undeliverable mail,
  7. addressing safety or security issues.

* The system administrator will need written approval, including email, indicating the extent of access that has been authorized from the Chief Information Officer (CIO) or the CIO's designee, to access specific mail and data for these purposes.

To the greatest extent possible in a public setting individuals' privacy should be preserved. However, there is no expectation of privacy or confidentiality for documents and messages stored on University-owned equipment.

Users of electronic mail systems should be aware that, in addition to being subject to authorized access, electronic mail in its present form cannot be secured and is, therefore, vulnerable to unauthorized access and modification by third parties. Receivers of electronic mail documents should check with the purported sender if there is any doubt about the identity of the sender or the authenticity of the contents, as they would with print documents. Users of electronic mail services should be aware that even though the sender and recipient have discarded their copies of an electronic mail record, there may be back-up copies of such electronic mail that can be retrieved.

University electronic mail services may, subject to the foregoing, be used for incidental personal purposes provided such use does not interfere with University operation of information technologies including electronic mail services, burden the University with incremental costs, or interfere with the user's employment or other obligations to the University.

Registered student and campus organizations such as the College Republican Club or the Young Democrats may use their membership listservs 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, University information technology resources, including email, may not be used to support partisan political candidates or party fundraising. This statement is consistent with Kansas law and Board of Regents policy on political activity. (See Kansas law and Board of Regents policy printed at the end of this policy.)

Electronic mail may constitute a public record like other documents subject to disclosure under the Kansas Open Records Act or other laws, or as a result of litigation. However, prior to such disclosure, the University evaluates all requests for information submitted by the public for compliance with the provisions of the Act or other applicable law. In addition, electronic mail may constitute University records subject to the University's Retention of Records Policy. As such, they may need to be retained for longer than an email system is capable of retaining them. It is the responsibility of the sender/recipient to determine if a particular email message constitutes a university record.

If an email message is a university record (as defined in PPM, Chapter 3090) it is subject to the same retention period as the paper equivalent. Email messages which require long-term retention should be either retained electronically on retrievable media or printed, including all header and transmission information, and filed with their electronic or paper equivalents by the sender/recipient. K-Staters should not consider back-up media on the central system as permanent archival storage (email back up media are only available for 30 days).

Incidental personal electronic mail which is not subject to the Retention of Records Policy may be destroyed at the user's discretion.

Faculty, unclassified professionals, and university support staff may not suppress publication of (e.g., unlist) their University eID in the online directory or other official publication of Kansas State University. Exceptions for special circumstances must be approved by the Chief Information Officer or official designee.

Email is considered a formal communication by the University with faculty, staff and students. Faculty, staff and students are expected to check their email on a frequent and consistent basis in order to stay current with University and/or faculty-student related communications. For more information regarding official correspondence see K-State's Official Electronic Correspondence with Faculty, Staff and Students Policy.

Violations of University policies governing the use of University electronic mail services may result in restriction of access to University information technology resources in addition to any disciplinary action that may be applicable under other University policies, guidelines or implementing procedures, up to and including dismissal.

In January of each year the Chief Information Officer will report to the Faculty Senate regarding cases dealt with that year. For privacy purposes all names will be omitted.

.030 Related Kansas Law and Board Of Regents Policy

Kansas Statutes Annotated (K.S.A.) 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; distribution of political material in public buildings, limitations on; misdemeanor. 

    1. No officer or employee of the state of Kansas, or any municipality, 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 mem 
    2. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to the use of internet connectivity provided by the state of Kansas or any municipality to any candidate or elected official.  
    3. Except as otherwise provided in this section, no municipality shall permit or allow any person to distribute, or cause to be distributed, within any building or other structure owned, leased or rented by such municipality any brochure, flier, political fact sheet or other document which expressly advocates the nomination, election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate for state or local office unless each candidate for such state or local office is permitted or allowed to do so in the same manner.  
    4. For the purposes of this subsection, the term municipality shall have the meaning ascribed to it in K.S.A. 12-105a, and amendments thereto.  
  1. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a class C misdemeanor. Kansas Board of Regents Policy Manual (Chapter 2, section 13d): 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. This responsibility includes avoiding the use of university letterhead and stationery and other official university designations. Employees testifying before the Legislature on behalf of outside entities shall notify their institution’s designated representative prior to such testimony. 
.040 Questions

Questions regarding this policy should be sent to the Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer (CIO).