Teachers College
Columbia University

Email Use

A.    Reason for Policy

Email is an efficient way to send messages within the Teachers College community. Because of the versatility and ubiquity of email technology, the College recognizes and has established the use of email as an official means of communication. This policy defines the appropriate use of the College’s email and its retention.

B.    Responsible Office and/or Officer

The Office of Computing and Information Services (CIS) is responsible for the maintenance of this policy, and for responding to questions regarding this policy. The responsible official is V. Ena Haines, Director of Information Technology.

C.   Policy

The following lists the acceptable use and security measures that one must exercise when using Teachers College email.

1.  Teachers College has established email as the official means of communication with students.  Students are required to activate and use the email address provided by the College. Information on how to do that is located at www.tc.edu/computing/newstudents.

Teachers College expects every student to receive email at his or her Teachers College email address and to read email frequently and consistently. A student’s failure to receive and read College communications in a timely manner does not absolve that student from knowing and complying with the content of such communications. Students may redirect (auto-forward) email sent to their Teachers College email address to another email address, unless they are also employees of the College and have access to confidential College information. However, students who redirect email from their official College email address to another address do so at their own risk. If email is lost as a result of forwarding, it does not absolve the student from the responsibilities associated with communications sent to their official College email address.

2.   Employees are expected to keep current with email and with announcements posted on the Message Center in myTC. The Message Center allows users to set preferences so that those messages are delivered as email. An employee’s failure to receive and read College communications in a timely manner does not absolve that employee from knowing and complying with the content of such communications.

3.   Messages sent and received via the College’s email system should be kept as confidential as possible by senders and recipients, as well as by CIS. The College and its email system administrators will not review an individual’s email unless necessary in the course of their duties.  Users are reminded that the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires that records relating to students (regardless of form) be treated in accordance with the Student Records and Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) Statement, at http://www.tc.columbia.edu/academics/catalog/index.asp?id=FERPA

4.  No email may be sent or forwarded through a College system or network for purposes that violate College or University policies or for an illegal or criminal purpose. Nuisance email or other online messages such as chain letters or obscene, harassing, offensive or other unwelcome messages are prohibited. Such email should be reported as specified in Complaints and Discipline regarding IT Policies, here: http://devweb.tc.columbia.edu/manager/form/complaintsanddisciplinepolicy.

5.  Employees of the College who choose to synchronize TC email or other information with a mobile device, must promptly report any loss or theft of the device to the Teachers College Help Desk via email to cishelpdesk@tc.columbia.edu or by telephone to 212-678-3300, or by contacting the cellular carrier to request that all content be cleared from the device. Note that this is part of the terms and conditions for TC email. Students are encouraged to contact their cellular carriers to do the same.

6.   Confidential and/or sensitive information (e.g., SSN, credit card, grades, medical information) must not be sent by email. The only acceptable way to transmit such information electronically is to attach the information as a password-protected and/or encrypted file. Never type the information in the body of the email; communicate the password or decryption code via different means such as telephone. Unless the file is encrypted or password-protected, it is more easilty read by others.

Instructions for password protecting and encrypting Microsoft Office documents can be found at http://www.columbia.edu/acis/security/articles/data/encryption.html

Prior to sending an email with sensitive and/or confidential information, verify the accuracy of the recipient's email address to prevent unintentionally sending it to an unauthorized individual. Once an email is sent, it cannot be recalled and /or undone.

7.  Only a Teachers College or Columbia University email account should be used when conducting College business. The use of personal email accounts to conduct College business, or to represent oneself or one’s enterprises on behalf of the College, is prohibited. Therefore, and in order to ensure archiving of messages sent by employees, email forwarding to a non-TC, non-CU account is strongly discouraged.

8.   All messages must show the genuine sender information (i.e., from where and from whom the message originated). Users may not impersonate other users or user groups, real or fabricated, by modifying email header information in an effort to deceive the recipient(s); e.g., email spoofing is specifically prohibited.

9.   Improper use of email (e.g., mass or commercial messages; messages that appear to contain viruses) will disrupt College operations. To prevent the spread of this type of email, the College reserves the right to terminate its connection to outside host servers, as well as filter, refuse and/or discard these messages.

10.  Employee email is archived for 10 years, and may be recovered by the individual as long as they have an active account. Please refer to the Network and Account Provisioning Policy (http://devweb.tc.columbia.edu/manager/form/docs/index.asp?formID=558) for additional detail about account privileges.

Please refer to Columbia’s policy for information on their email retention at http://policylibrary.columbia.edu/email-usage-and-retention-policy

11.  The intentional abuse of email privileges may result in disciplinary actions, suspension and/or termination. Unauthorized attempts to read another person's email will be treated as a serious violation of the College’s Acceptable Use of Information Technology policy (www.tc.edu/aupolicy).

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