Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Electronic Communications Policy Draft
The electronic communication services of MCLA are a vital component of the business of the
college. All members of the MCLA community are required to use their mcla.edu email
account for college business. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that these critical
services remain available and reliable, are used for purposes appropriate to the mission of
the college, and conform to the college’s data retention policies.
This policy applies to all users of any electronic communication service supported or used by
the College including but not limited to Electronic Mail, Voice Mail, Shared Calendars,
Telephony, Facsimile (FAX), etc.
This Policy should be interpreted in the broadest possible sense. Anyone who uses the
College’s electronic communications services consents to and agrees to abide by all
provisions of the Policy.
1. The MCLA E-Mail system is an official means of communication at MCLA
a. Official notifications and other important information may be sent by email. All
members of the college community are provided with an e-mail account and are
expected to check that account regularly.
b. Students are expected to use e-mail as an official medium for sending and receiving
MCLA electronic communications starting from the point of enrollment at MCLA. This
includes but is not limited to, announcements, notices, communication with faculty,
grades, and assignments as designated by faculty and business transacted with
c. Faculty, Staff, and Administrators are expected to use this system to distribute and
retrieve electronic information relative to their professional roles and when
communicating electronically with other members of the MCLA community.
2. The college will make all reasonable efforts to provide reliable electronic communications
3. Users should not have the expectation that e-mail sent over the Internet is secure or private.
Communications requiring high security should be encrypted or sent in hard copy by trusted
4. E-mail and other electronic communications systems belong to the college, as does any data
stored within them. Users should not consider any electronic files, e-mail, internet or voice-mail
messages either private or personal property.
5. The College will not engage in random monitoring of electronic communications, but as the
owner of the electronic communication systems, the College can access, or limit and/or restrict
access to it, as it deems necessary.
6. Users should remember that electronic communications are public records subject to legal
subpoena, Massachusetts Public Records Law requests, and legal discovery requirements.
7. Users should also be aware that staff responsible for maintaining the electronic communications
systems may inadvertently see the contents of individual messages in the course of their job.
8. While the college recognizes and respects the privacy of all members of the college community,
the college retains the right to examine any person’s messaging or individual messages. Such
examination must have the express approval, beforehand, of either the president of the college,
the president’s designee or a division head.
9. Permissible Uses of Electronic Communication
a. Only authorized users may use college electronic communication systems.
b. The college’s e-communications systems are intended to facilitate the flow of
information between members of the college community, they are to be used for all
purposes related to the academic, business, and social life of the college.
c. College systems are provided for purposes related to the academic and business mission
of the college. Nevertheless, private use of e-communication is permitted as described
in the following paragraph. Even for such limited private use, the provisions of this
policy still apply.
d. The College’s electronic communications facilities should not be used for personal
activities unrelated to College functions except in a purely incidental and reasonable
manner, and where such use does not:
i. interfere with the College’s operation of electronic resources;
ii. interfere with the user’s employment or other obligations to the College, or
iii. burden the College with noticeable incremental costs
e. An individual’s right to free speech receives the highest respect within the MCLA
electronic environments. Users should familiarize themselves with the MCLA policy on
free speech and assembly and other MCLA policies. The free speech policy can be seen
10. Prohibited Uses
a. No use for any commercial purposes that are not directly related to College business is
b. No use that violates any state or federal laws or regulations, or which violates any policy
of the college is permitted.
c. No unauthorized transmission of Personally Identifiable Information is permitted.
Personally Identifiable Information is 1: “Information which can be used to distinguish or
trace an individual's identity, such as their name, social security number, biometric
records, etc., alone, or when combined with other personal or identifying information
which is linked or linkable to a specific individual, such as date and place of birth,
mother’s maiden name, etc.”1
d. Unauthorized transmission of information protected by privacy laws including, but not
limited to, FERPA, HIPAA, PCI, or Massachusetts Executive Order 504, is prohibited.
e. No electronic communications that violates laws regarding intellectual property,
including copyright, patents, and trademarks, or which constitutes the unauthorized
exchange of proprietary information are permitted.
f. Any use of electronic communications systems that impair or degrade the service of any
data systems to other community members, such as the knowing transmission of a
computer virus, are prohibited.
g. Transmission of any message that purposefully misrepresents the identity of the sender
h. No personal message may state or imply College sponsorship or endorsement.
i. Any attempt at unauthorized access to electronic communications or attempting to
breach any security measures or policies on any electronic communication system, or
any attempt to intercept any electronic transmissions without proper authorization is
11. Storage space and archiving
a. Due to resource limitations, the college may impose limits or quotas on the amount of
storage provided to each user for Electronic Communications.
b. Electronic Communications systems and data will be backed up on a daily basis and
those backups retained for a period of up to 14 days. Backup data beyond the expiry
date will be destroyed.
c. E-Mail messages deleted by the recipient will be maintained in the “Trash” folder for 14
days and then purged automatically and permanently by the system.
d. Users are encouraged to remove Electronic Communications from college systems after
a reasonable period of time with the reminder that any stored communications are
subject to legal seizure, and with the caveat that it is unlawful to destroy any data that
might be material to any existing or impending civil or criminal legal action or which is
required to be retained under the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Records Retention
1. “Draft-SP800-122.pdf (application/pdf Object),” http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/drafts/800-122/Draft-
Schedule. An extract of the State Records Retention Schedule is included as an appendix
to this document.
e. Faculty and Staff are responsible for the retention of individual e-mail messages in
accordance with College policy and state and federal laws. These include but are not
i. Records Retention Schedule for Massachusetts State Colleges
ii. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) Policy
iii. Health Information and Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA)
iv. Gramm-Leach-Bliley (GLB) Act
f. The individual or department responsible for compliance oversight, the stewardship of
specific records, and/or business process should be contacted with any and all questions
pertaining to what should be retained, the procedure for doing so, and/or for how long.
g. E-mail correspondence to conduct College business must never be done using a
personal account and always kept separate. Otherwise, personal e-mail accounts could
be part of court ordered searches due to the provisions contained within the
12. Official College Electronic Communications
a. When using electronic services as an official means of communication, students, faculty
and staff should apply the same professionalism, discretion, and standards that they
would use in written business communication.
b. E-mailed requests by current students for college services must originate from a
13. User Responsibilities
a. Students are expected to read their College electronic messages on a regular basis.
Those who choose to use another email system are responsible for any redirection and
for ensuring accurate receipt of such messages.
b. Faculty and Staff are expected to read their College electronic messages on a regular
basis and redirecting (automatically forwarding) their college email to an external
system is disallowed. Official college communications may contain private or legally
protected information and must be stored on college owned servers.
c. An electronic message regarding College business sent from an administrative office to
the official email address of a faculty, student or staff member is considered to be an
official notice from the College.
a. A violation of this policy may subject a user to disciplinary action under appropriate
College disciplinary procedures. The College may take such action as necessary, in its
discretion, to address any violation(s) of this policy.
b. Any suspected violation of civil or criminal law will be reported to the appropriate law
The College cannot protect individuals against the existence or receipt of material that may be
offensive to them. As such, those who make use of electronic resources and communication are
warned that they may come across or be recipients of material they find offensive.
a. The College makes every effort to block the delivery of unsolicited Electronic
Communications, known as Spam. However total elimination of Spam is not technically
possible and users may receive some unsolicited material.
16. The College reserves the right to modify the provisions of this Policy.
[The following document was prepared by Massachusetts ITD (Information
Technology Division) for Commonwealth Agencies and Departments, not all is
directly applicable to MCLA but it provides a good guideline to compliance with
Massachusetts Records Retention requirements as applied to Electronic
Executive Office E-mail Retention Policy and Procedure
PURPOSE: To establish consistent guidelines and policy for preserving e-mail records as required by the
Public Records Law, Statewide Retention Schedule and other applicable laws and to ensure that e-mails
are accessible if subject to a public records request or a discovery request as part of a court action.
POLICY: All e-mail records sent and received during the course of your responsibilities may, depending
on their content, be Public Records as defined by M.G.L. c. 4, §7, cl. 26th, and should not be deleted
except in accordance with this policy. E-mails that are Public Records must be saved by the custodian or
keeper of that Public Record to a permanent electronic record system (i.e., saved in an e-mail archive
file) and preserved in accordance with the current Statewide Records Retention Schedule
(http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/arcrmu/rmurds/0707.doc.). The contextual or “envelope” information
[metadata] included with an email, which contains the mailing address, date/time stamp, routing
instructions and transmission and receipt information constitutes part of the email and must be retained
as part of any printed or electronically stored version of the email.
It is the content of the e-mail and not the type of media on which it is stored that determines how long
it must be retained.
If, under the guidelines published in this policy, you are the custodian or keeper of an e-mail, you
must preserve that e-mail, unless it is not required to be preserved under the retention schedule. In
general, you are the custodian of: (a) all business e-mails you send, and (b) business e-mails you receive
if you are one of the primary recipients of the e-mail or you are the only one receiving it within your
agency. If you are simply copied on an e-mail sent to another employee of your agency, you are not the
custodian or keeper of that e-mail, and are not generally required to retain the e-mail. Exceptions may
exist in connection with litigation or other legal disputes, where you should comply with any instructions
you receive from agency counsel or the Attorney General’s Office to retain records even if you are not
the custodian or keeper of the e-mail under these guidelines.
The following guidelines are included to assist you in determining what must be retained.
1. How do I know whether I am required to preserve a particular e-mail?
If an e-mail is sent or received during the course of your responsibilities and deals with business of your
office, it is likely to be a “Public Record,” and therefore must be retained in accordance with the relevant
retention schedule. You should consult your agency attorney if you have a question regarding the Public
If you are an executive, you have a greater obligation to preserve certain documents, as noted below.
Executives are defined under the Statewide Records Retention Schedule as “elected officials,
commissioners, agency heads, and the persons with delegated authority to act on their behalf.”
There are some categories of e-mails that do not have to be retained under the Statewide Records
Retention Schedule after their administrative use has ceased, and, if properly deleted, do not need to be
produced as public records or in response to a discovery request. A person responsible for arranging a
work-related event or creating a policy should preserve the documents related to those actions. The
following is a list of some of the types of e-mails that ordinarily do not need to be retained and can be
deleted from your e-mail:
1. Program transitory correspondence encountered in the daily administration of the unit and its
programs, including acknowledgments, courtesy correspondence, declined invitations, meeting
announcements, scheduling changes
2. Documents scheduling meetings, travel, appointments and events, including calendars and related lists
and postings unless they relate to activities of executives or persons in policy-making positions.
3. Out-of-office replies
4. Thank you messages
5. Personal messages unrelated to state agency business, including information regarding non-business
related activities of the department
6. Communications regarding routine office policies and procedures, such as handling mail, opening hours,
7. Duplicate messages/attachments, as described below
8. Junk mail or spam
9. Published reference materials collected from sources outside the agency
10. Replies to routine questions and information requests – for example, address and hours open, requests
11. Incoming listserv messages
12. Media advisories, news and press releases and web announcements sent for informational purposes
unless you were involved in the drafting or review of these documents
13. E-mails sent to another employee in your department, with a copy sent to you as long as you are not the
custodian or keeper of that e-mail as described below.
14. Reports, meeting minutes and publications that are distributed to you for your convenience as a
member of a group or committee and are not needed to support other files. If the group has a secretary
or record keeper maintaining copies, you do not need to keep an additional copy.
If an e-mail is not on this list, you should check with your agency counsel or consult the Statewide
Retention Schedule at: http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/arcrmu/rmurds/0707.doc. Employees are
encouraged to become familiar with the retention requirements that apply to their particular
responsibilities. The schedule is arranged by subject matter and will tell you how long the e-mail should
be kept, based on its content. If the schedule provides that the record may be destroyed “after
administrative use ceases,” the record may be deleted after that time. If the schedule requires a specific
number of years for retention, the record cannot be destroyed until a written request is submitted to
and approved by the Records Conservation Board.
2. How do I recognize a duplicate e-mail?
An e-mail that is a copy of an original e-mail with the same message content and attachments is a
duplicate that may be deleted. An e-mail in a multiple e-mail “thread”, where participants have
responded to each other several times with the previous messages included need not be kept as long as
a later message in the same thread is retained.
3. Which e-mails, for which I am the custodian or keeper, do I need to preserve?
• Any e-mail record for which the Statewide Retention Schedule requires retention for an established time
period (in general, e-mails concerning agency business) or about which you are unsure (that is, err on
the side of retention if you are unsure);
• E-mails subject to or likely to be subject to a dispute, audit, investigation, or litigation, or subject to
other legal retention requirements, regardless of whether you think they are Public Records. You should
consult your agency attorney if you have any question as to whether a particular e-mail is relevant to an
ongoing dispute, investigation or litigation.
4. Do I have to save the entire e-mail?
Yes. E-mail Public Records must include the “metadata” (sender, time sent, text, date sent, subject lines,
recipients), the message, and any attachments. Saving your e-mail in the original Outlook format (“PST”
format – that is, the same format the original e-mail is in) will preserve the original metadata. See
question 7 below for more details.
5. Where should I store my e-mails?
Store your e-mails in a .pst e-mail archive. You should not retain e-mails in your regular Mass Mail
inbox. This is a transitory storage area. Instructions on how to create a .pst archive are attached.
Your agency may already have a sophisticated email archiving solution, known as a “vault”. If so, your
LAN manager will inform you that you do not need to use the Microsoft Outlook archiving feature to
create .pst files. If your agency does not already have an archiving solution in place and if you do not
already have an email archive inbox, you should create one. You may choose to print certain of these e-
mails for your review and use and file them in your paper files. If you keep a paper copy you do not
have to preserve the email; however, you must retain the metadata as well.
6. Whom do I call with questions?
If, after reviewing the Statewide Records Retention Schedule, you have questions about whether an e-
mail must be saved, ask your supervisor or contact your agency attorney. If you have questions about
using Outlook, contact your agency’s IT representative.