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Index > Operations Policies > Electronic Mail Policy

Electronic Mail Policy



College E-mail accounts are provided and supported by RISD to support the mission of the college. The RISD electronic mail system ("e-mail") provides an electronic means of communicating with individuals or groups within RISD, and externally.

Users have the responsibility to use these resources in an efficient, effective, ethical, and lawful manner. Use of the college's e-mail systems evidences the user's agreement to be bound by this policy. Violations of this policy may result in restriction of access to the college email system and/or other appropriate disciplinary action.

Official College E-mail

The college will use the e-mail account to communicate with all staff, faculty and students for "official college business". An e-mail message regarding college matters sent from an administrative office, faculty, or staff member is an example of official e-mail. When using e-mail as an official means of communication, students, faculty, and staff should apply the same professionalism, discretion, and standards that they would use in other written communication.

User Responsibilities

Faculty, staff, and students are expected to read their RISD e-mail messages on a regular basis. Faculty, staff, or students who choose to use another email system are responsible for receiving college-wide broadcast messages, notices, and personal mail by checking the college's official electronic mail system or by utilizing the Forwarding Feature, which can be set to forward mail to an individual's personal e-mail account.

Personal Use of E-mail

The college authorizes personal use of the college e-mail system, as long as it doesn't interfere with a college employee's obligation to carry out college duties in a timely and effective manner.

Privacy of E-mail

RISD will endeavor to protect the privacy of senders and recipients, but users should be aware that e-mail is not secure and may be forwarded. Furthermore, copies of e-mail messages may be archived as part of normal backup procedures, and therefore be retrievable for several months or longer even after users have deleted them.

While the college does not routinely monitor any user's e-mail content, privacy of personal e-mail content residing on or transmitted through College equipment is not assured. (For more on Privacy see RISD's Computer Use Policy) Courts may order the production of College records, including e-mail records, in connection with litigation. Appropriate law enforcement and other officials may, consistent with law, have access to documents for purposes of investigating allegations of violations of law or of College policy. NOTE: Occasionally, supervisors may require access to an individual's e-mail account for official college business. In these situations, access will be granted based on supervisor approval.

Limitations on the Use of E-mail

The legal and regulatory environment surrounding College e-mail creates a number of other limitations on the use of College e-mail accounts. They may be briefly summarized:

  • E-mail accounts are for the exclusive use of the individual/ approved user or department / division to whom they are assigned.
  • E-mail that conflicts with the requirements of civil or criminal law, including but not limited to laws relating to pornography, defamation, intellectual property infringement, and illegal discrimination, or conflicts with any RISD policy is also in violation with this policy.
  • Knowingly transmitting messages containing a computer virus or that misrepresents the identity of the sender is prohibited.
  • Using, or attempting to use the accounts of others without their permission is prohibited.
  • The personal use cannot involve sending or soliciting chain letters or sending unsolicited bulk mail messages (e.g., "junk mail" or "spam") or otherwise overloading the College's electronic mail system or negatively interfering with system performance.
  • Uses that result in commercial gain or personal profit are not permitted, except as allowed under College intellectual property policies and the external activities for pay policy; however, in no case may College E-MAIL be used for solicitation of an external activity for pay. No personal use may state or imply College sponsorship or endorsement of its message.

Archiving E-MAIL messages

Individuals are responsible for saving or archiving e-mail messages that constitute College records. Methods of archiving e-mail may consist of, but are not limited to Groupwise Archiving, disk copy, create CDROM, among others. E-mail messages that are of a temporary, ephemeral, or transient nature and have only reference or administrative value may be deleted when the user has determined that their reference value has ended. Due to limited resources, the college has instituted e-mail quotas regarding amount of user space on the message server as necessary. In the event additional disk space may be required, please contact ITServices at 401-454-6106 for assistance.

Broadcast Messages

The College currently maintains mail distribution lists for the following groups: all faculty, staff, students, and sub-groups of students by class year.

ITServices will maintain authorized broadcast e-mail accounts (i.e. Public_Safety, Academic_Affairs, etc.) and distribute the password to these accounts to the appropriate person responsible for these areas. This authorized party (or surrogate) will have the capability to send broadcast email messages to the above named distribution lists as required.

Appropriate broadcast of electronic messages may include, but is not limited to, the following types of announcements:

  • Emergency or unforeseen campus-wide events notification (e.g., cancellation of classes or closing of the College due to inclement weather or emergency);
  • Important campus deadline notification (e.g., last day of drop/add for students); or Improved services to students, faculty, or staff that directly impact all members of the affected group.

Listservs (see below) should be used to transmit bulk e-mail distribution for messages such as publicizing campus events and other more targeted audience messages.


Listservs are mailing list programs for communicating with other people who have subscribed to the same list. Using e-mail, you can participate in listservs pertaining to your topics of interest. When you submit a message to the server your message is relayed to all those on the listserv. You receive messages from other participants via e-mail. This broadcast medium has the capability to create "populations of interest" whereby logical groups can be created based on either a common interest or need. The Listserv can be administered and or moderated by the list owner as needed.

Revision history

This policy was last reviewed/modified on: 10/29/2015

Next scheduled review: 10/15/2022


Issuing Office


Responsible Officer

Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration