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Belmont University

World Wide Web Policies & Procedures

Belmont's Email Policy

POLICY ON E-MAIL PRIVACY (Jan 2012)

The following policy is being included in the online versions of the staff and faculty handbooks in the computer use policies immediately before section titled "Procedures for Dealing with Violations."

E-Mail Privacy Electronic mail enables users to place information quickly and directly into another person's computer where it can be retrieved, read, revised, stored indefinitely, downloaded, or responded to immediately. E-mail has made employment and academic activities of the university more efficient by enabling us to make better use of our time and reducing paperwork. However, there is a deceptive aura of privacy that surrounds e-mail that can mislead persons into believing that private, hostile, or unlawful statements can be confidentially communicated through e-mail. In addition, proprietary or potentially embarrassing information can be accidentally or purposely sent within the university and to others outside the university. Because of e-mail's immediacy and ease of use, mistakes or misunderstandings are common, even in routine messages. E-mail users often do not stop to think of the impact of e-mail upon a recipient.

To avoid these problems, remember the following:

1. Belmont's e-mail system is for use by faculty, staff, and students in carrying out their employment and academic activities. It is not intended for personal use.

2. Prior to sending an e-mail message, ask yourself whether you would feel comfortable if the text of the message were posted on a bulletin board on campus or printed in the newspaper. Would public disclosure cause unnecessary embarrassment or create liability?

3. The privacy of e-mail sent or received on university equipment cannot be guaranteed.

� If the e-mail pertains to a student, it is likely to be an "education record" that the student will have the right to inspect and review.

� The use of private "mailboxes" and passwords in an e-mail system does not provide any privacy from people who will see e-mail forwarded, printed out, or left displayed on an unattended computer screen.

� Belmont makes no representations regarding the security of the e-mail system from casual users or hackers.

� Although it is a violation of university policy and ethics for members of the ITS staff to monitor the content of e-mail messages, e-mail will be accessed and read by others who have a need to know in the event that the university conducts an investigation. Or, if Belmont is involved in litigation, e-mail messages may be read in the discovery process and may be publicized in a trial.

4. While no one can guarantee that any particular form of communication between individuals will be completely confidential, you may wish to minimize the chance that a sensitive communication sent via e-mail is misdirected or accessed without permission by sending the communication through regular mail, campus mail, or by personal delivery. If you have no need of a record of the communication, consider sharing your information through person-to-person conversation.



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