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Electronic Mail Policy

E-mail is the communication medium of choice for the Bentley community. It is an official vehicle by which the members of the university communicate with each other. Students, faculty and staff are all expected to read e-mail regularly to glean the critical information that is routinely conveyed.

Bentley provides electronic mail services to the campus community, at the university's expense, in support of academic and administrative pursuits. Incidental personal use is also permitted, so long as the use does not violate federal or state laws, or university policy. These guidelines apply to electronic mail sent or stored on servers, on personal computers, on personal devices such as Blackberries or other smartphones, on PDA devices, and to all archived and backup e-mail files and folders created using Bentley technology resources, regardless of where they reside. The university reserves the right to change these policies at any time as may be reasonable under the circumstance.

Privacy of E-Mail

Electronic mail created or distributed using Bentley resources are considered university property, regardless of content. Employees and students should be aware that e-mail sent and received using the university's computer resources is neither confidential nor private. Individuals who send an e-mail message should note that any recipient of their e-mail could potentially forward the message to others without your permission. The university itself may, upon reasonable grounds, access your e-mail files at any time, without prior notice to the student or employee, but with approval from two vice presidents.

As a general rule, the university will not read or make available the contents of any individual's electronic mail unless there are reasonable grounds to do so. Reasonable grounds for doing so may include but are not limited to:

  • ensuring system integrity (such as tracking viruses or corrupt messages) 
  • complying with legal obligations (such as subpoenas) 
  • maintaining the continuity of business operations (such as when employees are terminated or leave the university) 
  • investigating complaints of possible violation of university policy 
  • resolving disputes or grievances between individuals at the university 
  • performing certain system-management functions (such as resolving quota issues, disabling agents, troubleshooting reported problems or migrating data to alternate servers)  
  • conducting judicial review cases
  • continuing business after a person is terminated from their position or leaves Bentley

Prohibited Uses of E-Mail

No person may use the university's electronic mail system to send a harassing or threatening e-mail message, or an e-mail message that would be considered offensive by a reasonable person. Individuals who engage in such behavior may be subject to disciplinary action. If the recipient of a harassing e-mail message files a complaint with their manager, Campus Safety or Human Resources, and provides evidence of such a message, the university reserves the right to fully investigate the matter by reviewing the logs of both recipient and sender; the university also may pursue disciplinary actions including, but not limited to, termination or expulsion.

Prohibited uses of e-mail may include but are not limited to:

  •  Soliciting for fundraising, political, religious or business ventures not directly affiliated with official university activities 
  •  Transmitting information that is false, derogatory, profane or sexually explicit manner 
  •  Using e-mail to publicly convey what would reasonably be interpreted as personal information regarding another employee 
  •  Sending harassing materials (i.e., threats or offensive remarks about race, ethnicity or sexual orientation) 
  •  Attempting to disguise the identification or origin of the e-mail 
  •  Including copyrighted or trademarked materials without authorization from the person or business holding the copyright or trademark, with the exception of fair use 
  •  Sending e-mail chain messages (i.e., those sent with the expectation that the recipient will forward the message to a group of people) 
  •  Sending e-mail that contains viruses or Trojan horses 
  •  Using another person's email password and address 
  •  Sending unwanted, uninvited spam e-mail to others

Backup and File Deletions

The university maintains backup copies of e-mails. Please be aware that deleting e-mail messages from a mail folder or in-box does not delete a previously archived or backup copy of that message.

The university is under no obligation to provide students or employees with copies of their e-mails.

Internal versus External Confidentiality

The university's ability to reasonably secure (encrypt) e-mail messages between parties is limited to messages sent to and from Bentley e-mail accounts. Bentley has no ability to secure email that is sent or forwarded from a Bentley account to another e-mail account (i.e., Yahoo, Gmail, etc.). Consequently employees may not send or forward e-mail that contains confidential or personally identifiable information from their Bentley account to a non-Bentley e-mail account.

Distribution Lists

E-mail distribution lists are university property. They may be furnished to an external third party only in conjunction with a legitimate academic or administrative initiative, approved in writing by a vice president. In such cases, contractual arrangements with the external party must include language that prevents the vendor from furnishing, duplicating or selling the distribution list to another party.

Under no circumstances may university distribution lists be sold to an external party, nor may employees use these lists for individual gain or to express unsolicited personal views and opinions (for example, marketing a product or service or conveying a grievance). Creating for any purpose self-constructed distribution lists comprised of faculty or staff e-mail addresses is strictly prohibited. Violations of this policy may result in temporary or permanent loss of access rights, fines, assignment of financial responsibility, disciplinary action up to and including immediate termination of employment, expulsion as a student, and legal action. For contractors and other external vendors, sanctions may include termination of contract and legal action.

Faculty, staff and students must exercise caution in using e-mail distribution lists to conduct internal surveys, as most recipients find unsolicited surveys tantamount to spam. Employee use of distribution lists for surveying is allowed only for legitimate academic or administrative purpose and only when approved by their divisional vice president. Use of distribution lists by students to solicit participation in surveys relating to course work is prohibited unless the faculty member has requested and received approval from their respective dean or vice president and the survey instrument makes clear that participation in the survey is voluntary.  Student organizations and their members should seek approval from the Office of Student Activities for surveys and announcements.

File Size and Disk Quotas

Individuals should exercise restraint in the use of e-mail, especially when it comes to storing large files such as graphic images, pictures and videos. If you no longer need them, e-mail messages and attachments should be deleted. The university reserves the right to implement e-mail quotas for both employee and student accounts. Individuals are responsible for regularly deleting old files from in-boxes and mail folders; failure to do so may result in temporary loss of e-mail privileges until the cumulative total of files can be reduced below individual e-mail quotas.

Removal of E-Mail Accounts

Bentley reserves the right to immediately terminate e-mail access for employees who have left the university. Student e-mail accounts are deleted when the individual is no longer registered for a course at the university. Student accounts are removed twice a year: in late October for the previous spring registration period, and in late April for the preceding fall registration period. For example, the e-mail accounts of graduating seniors are removed during the October cycle following May commencement.

Internet Use Policy

Internet users are bound by university policies regarding limitations on use, information privacy, file sharing and copyright law, electronic mail, Bentley's Honor Code and related policies. The unique capabilities of the Internet impose these additional responsibilities on faculty, students and staff.

Principles Supporting Open Access

The Internet is a powerful tool for education and research; however, certain Internet services contain material that may be controversial. In principle, Bentley University is opposed to censoring such material, in the belief that the institutional mission is best served by free and open exchange of information. Although Internet access is given to all, the individual is responsible for deciding how to use the multitude of electronic resources. Bentley will hold individuals accountable for their own behavior.

This principle is consistent with Article 2 of the Library Bill of Rights: Libraries should provide books and other materials presenting all points of view concerning the problems and issues of our times; no library materials should be proscribed or removed from libraries because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

Acknowledging Source(s)

Documents and other information accessed through the Internet that are used in compiling reports, term papers, journal articles and the like, must be cited with a proper footnote and bibliographic reference as if the source were a book or other printed work. Doing otherwise constitutes plagiarism and will be disciplined as such.

Handling Potentially Offensive Material

Employees must exercise judgment and discretion in choosing information to access. University policy prohibits access to pornography and sexually explicit material, as well as material that a reasonable person would consider offensive, unless there is a legitimate academic or administrative purpose for accessing such information. If pornography or offensive material or images are found on an employee's computer, the university reserves the right to terminate the employee.

Pornographic and sexually explicit material may not be viewed or downloaded to computers located within employee offices, computer labs, classrooms, or common facilities. Neither may the material be directed to public printers. Individuals who engage in such behavior may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination and expulsion.

It is strictly forbidden to use Internet resources to view, display or transmit child pornography; material protected by copyright, including but not limited to music, videos or software; and information that is considered proprietary.