|Policy Approval Authority
|Division of Enrollment Management, Marketing, and Communications
|Vice President for Enrollment Management, Marketing and Communications
|Sol Jensen, email@example.com
|Effective Adoption Date
|Last Review Date
Marketing & Communication
Northern Illinois University's electronic mail (email) is recognized as an official University correspondence. NIU works to ensure that all communications originating from the institution are professional, appropriate and relevant to the communication's target audience. These guidelines are designed to address critical communication needs in a manner which maximizes engagement and minimizes oversaturation of information. Creating effective electronic communications, which reflect the branding standards of Northern Illinois University, is a shared responsibility of all members of the University community.
Mass electronic communications, by definition, are email sent in large quantities, and are recognized as an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly use of technology for facilitating communication within the NIU community. Mass electronic communications messages can be sent to a list of email addresses or mobile phone numbers of a pre-defined target group.
The approval and distribution of all mass electronic communications shall comply with all applicable state and federal laws, and all institutional policies and standards, including but not limited to those laws and policies that prohibit discrimination and harassment and that honor an individual's reasonable expectation for institutional communications.
The purpose of this policy is to facilitate access to University mass communication systems and provide guidelines for distribution in a way that enhances prospective student recruitment and current student retention efforts, provides employees with needed information, upholds information technology security standards and aids in institutional branding, while recognizing the expectation of mass electronic communication access among members of the University community.
This policy applies to all members of the NIU Community, including students, faculty, staff, trusted partners, contractors and users of the university network and messaging systems.
Generally speaking, mass electronic communications are appropriate for messages that: directly relate to carrying out the business of the university; relate to changes in university policy or time-sensitive issues; survey distribution; and inform a select group of people (e.g., faculty, staff, students, members of a specific school or department, etc.) of an announcement or information to their specific role within the university.
All communications should comply with NIU’s Appropriate Use Policy. In addition, inappropriate use of mass electronic communications includes, but is not limited to: messages that are not in line with the mission of the university; messages that are personal in nature; and messages that are commercial in nature, with the exception of those messages that are in support of university business and are approved by the stipulations defined in this policy. Announcements that do not meet this criteria of urgency and/or critical university information, should be distributed via other methods, such as the NIU Calendar, NIU Today, Office 365 email and dynamic (digital) signage.
To promote institutional operating efficiency and network security, the following guidelines are intended to prevent an adverse impact of email services during working hours:
Mass electronic communications must NOT be used for commercial advertisement purposes. Examples include:
Under certain limited circumstances, email messages that advertise or promote a product, service, or program being offered by the university or by a third-party through the university may be approved for distribution. These messages typically will be required to: identify the message as an advertisement or a promotion; include a valid physical mailing address in the body of the message; and provide the recipient with a way to decline to receive any additional messages that advertise or promote the product, service or program at issue.
Selected notices and announcements of broad interest, usefulness, or need are among acceptable uses of mass electronic communications. Such notices and announcements include those for:
Departments obtaining lists in the form of electronic files to use for an approved mailing to students, faculty or employees are to comply with this policy and must receive approval from the designated authority for subsequent uses of the same list for additional mailings. Electronic mail addresses are not made available to persons or organizations outside of NIU, except through appropriate authorizations as noted in the policy.
These procedures provide guidance on distributing communications to the entire campus community, sending mass messaging to a specific target population, and requesting to distribute a survey.
Official University Announcements: Requests to be granted authorization to send mass electronic communications messages or survey requests, using NIU mass electronic communications, can be submitted through the Division of Marketing & Communications Clearinghouse form by a dean (or their designee), director, department head. Requests should include who would be authorized to send the message, the justification for requiring the service, and the target group.
Requests to send out mass electronic communications to all the segmented university populations outlined in the section of the procedure must be approved by the appropriate initiating office and meet the guidelines in the Appropriate and Prohibited Uses section, above.
Requests to be granted authorization to send mass electronic communications messages to a target population, using NIU mass electronic communications, must be submitted to the Division of Marketing & Communications by a dean (or their designee), director, or department head. Requests should include who would be authorized to send the message, the justification for requiring the service, and the target group. Submit the request through the Division of Marketing & Communications Clearinghouse form for approval and distribution.
Colleges and academic and administrative departments are authorized to send messages to faculty and/or staff, alumni, retirees, and students enrolled in their academic program or engaged with their administrative department. These “local” communications do not need Vice Presidential screening or approval. Prospective and admitted undergraduate student communications should be developed and distributed in collaboration with Undergraduate Admissions.
In an effort to prevent the proliferation of unrequested email to students, the following guidelines will be used when a request is made to send mass electronic communications to students:
The University recognizes the importance of research as central to the academic mission. All email research surveys shall require Institutional Research Board (IRB) exemption or approval, and documentation of IRB exemption or approval must be provided with the request for distribution. Requests for research email surveys may originate internally or externally to NIU from faculty and students. Email distribution of research surveys should be conducted in such a way that the communication is viewed by the recipient as an academic activity, not as unsolicited and unwanted email.
Email survey requests must be submitted with adequate lead-time (two weeks for surveys generated inside NIU and six weeks for those generated externally). These deadlines will ensure NIU can balance the timing of survey requests, manage the distribution of target populations, and monitor the number and frequency of email survey requests. In an effort to avoid conflict between surveys, excessive repetition, and the possibility of survey fatigue which reduces response rates, NIU reserves the right to limit the number of surveys requested by external institutions and the time of distribution.
Researchers, staff, and administrators can also access data about University faculty, staff or students which are held in student and employee information systems or collected through national surveys such as those noted above. Based on the designated survey recipients, authorization for data release and survey approval will be given by the University official charged with the responsibility of screening requests sent to this population segment (as outlined in the guidelines above). Internal survey distribution and data requests must be submitted through the Division of Marketing & Communications Clearinghouse form for approval.
Survey requests originating from within NIU will be considered for data collection activities conducted by NIU faculty, staff or administration for internal purposes. “Surveys for internal administrative purposes” includes surveys by faculty, staff, administrators or academic unit of their students and departments or their constituents. Based on the designated survey recipients, authorization for data release and survey approval will be given to the University official charged with the responsibility of screening requests sent to this population segment (as outlined in the guidelines above). Internal survey distribution and data requests must be submitted through the Division of Marketing & Communications Clearinghouse form for approval.
Email survey requests need to be submitted with adequate lead-time (minimally two weeks, six weeks preferred) to balance timing of survey requests, manage the distribution of target populations, and monitor the number and frequency of email survey requests. Researchers, staff and administrators can also access data on University faculty, staff or students which is held in student and employee information systems or collected through national surveys such as those noted above.
Requests for third party communications and permit listings need to be granted authorization to send mass electronic communications messages using NIU mass electronic communications. Messages sent via university email addresses must be consistent with existing university policies (See the Acceptable Use Policy.). Submit the request through the Division of Marketing & Communications Clearinghouse form for approval and distribution.