Electronic Mail (e-mail)

Operations and General Administration

Responsibility: President
Authorization: Board of Governors
Approval Date: Jun 23, 2006


The purpose of this policy is to define the acceptable use of electronic mail (e-mail) at the University of Saskatchewan, to outline responsibilities involving e-mail and to establish guidelines for effective practices and processes.


  • The University e-mail system is a vital part of the University's information technology services infrastructure and a mission-critical service. It is maintained on University servers to assist with communication necessary in conducting and administering the business of the University, including teaching, research and scholarly work.

  • E-mail is a medium for the exchange of information within our community and with the wider academic and other communities of which we are a part. Service will be provided and maintained centrally.

  • All faculty, staff and students are normally entitled to University e-mail services accessed through a centrally provided computer account. The University may withhold or withdraw these services with cause.

  • The University uses e-mail as an official communications tool.

  • The centrally provided University of Saskatchewan e-mail address is the University's official electronic mailing address for all faculty, staff and students. The account holder is responsible for reading and attending to e-mail sent to this address. The University will not collect, store or maintain information on other accounts.

Scope of this policy

This policy has been developed in the context of, and is designed to complement, 

  • existing University policies and regulations, particularly those governing computer use; University property and services; data management, access and use; privacy; copyright; and intellectual property;
  • collective agreements;
  • PAWS Communication and Content Guidelines;
  • Student Appeals in Academic Matters and Student Academic Dishonesty Rules of the University of Saskatchewan;
  • Policy and Procedures Respecting Non-Academic Discipline and Appeals at the University of Saskatchewan;
  • the provincial Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;
  • the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act (PIPEDA).


The University will normally provide e-mail services to all faculty, staff and students, to be used in conjunction with their University duties or activities. The University may also provide e-mail services to others with whom it does business, including but not limited to alumni, retirees, and visiting faculty. Service to any account holder may be withheld or withdrawn with cause.

The appropriate Data Steward determines eligibility for e-mail service. For faculty members, staff members or retirees eligibility for service is under the jurisdiction of the Associate Vice-President for Human Resources. For students eligibility for service is under the jurisdiction of the Associate Vice-President for Student and Enrolment Services. For alumni, alumnae or donors eligibility for service is under the jurisdiction of the Vice-President for University Advancement.

The e-mail address is the property of the University.

The content of e-mail messages sent using any University account and/or stored on any University server is subject to the Computer Use policy. The University's right to access e-mail records is described below.

The intellectual property provisions of copyright law are operative for all materials stored in electronic form, including e-mail messages.

All account holders have a responsibility to ensure that they conduct e-mail exchanges with professionalism and courtesy, and manage their e-mail responsibly.

Use of invalid or forged "From" addresses or any other attempt to misrepresent the identity of the sender will be considered a violation of this policy.

Inappropriate or offensive e-mail, or e-mail that is threatening, discriminatory, harassing or obscene, must not be sent or forwarded, except as requested in making a complaint of inappropriate or offensive e-mail.

Faculty, staff, students and alumni may use University e-mail services for personal purposes, with the understanding that all messages stored on University servers are considered to be University records. Acceptable personal use will not compromise the business of the University, will not increase the University's costs, will not expose the University to additional risk, will not damage the University's reputation and is not part of an activity that the account holder does for personal profit.

E-mail messages and targeted announcements sent through PAWS, the University portal, are subject to this policy. Further guidelines on the use of these facilities in PAWS can be found in the PAWS Communication and Content Guidelines.


A user's reasonable expectation of privacy is subject to the University's right to access e-mail records, including those which have been deleted by the account holder but which may not yet have been deleted centrally, where there is determined to be a clear business need. This need may relate to the need for business access in the absence of an employee, a request under the Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, or to recover evidence while investigating allegations of misconduct and managing actual or potential criminal or civil litigation in which the University is or may become a party.

If a request for access to e-mail records is received under the Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, or by subpoena, existing records are included and must not be deleted. Requests for access to e-mail records under the Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act are made to the University official who has been designated to oversee compliance with the Act, who may consult with the appropriate Data Steward (refer to the Data Management, Data Access and Data Use Policy). Requests for access to e-mail records by subpoena are made to Security Services.

Wherever practical, employees will be notified promptly when their e-mail records have been accessed.


1. Responsibilities of Account Holders

It is the account holder's responsibility to ensure that e-mail received at his/her official University address is attended to in a timely manner. The account holder may forward the e-mail to be read at another account but the University assumes no responsibility for delivery to an off-campus account.

E-mail messages may be either transitory or required for ongoing purposes. It is the account holder's responsibility to retain any e-mail message that is required for ongoing purposes and to dispose of any e-mail message that is no longer required.

Since the e-mail bears identification marks of the University of Saskatchewan, account holders are expected to treat e-mail in the same manner as they would use University letterhead, and to ensure that all communication is carried on in a professional, respectful and courteous manner.

2. Responsibilities of Service Providers

Those responsible for maintaining any University e-mail servers are responsible for ensuring that institutional standards for security, user authentication and access control are appropriately applied.

E-mail servers are backed up for purposes of disaster recovery only and not for recovery of specific items of deleted e-mail or other requests. There is no back-up for archival purposes. Individuals are responsible for backing up any e-mail they require for ongoing purposes.

The e-mail address provided by the University will be stored in the University's contact database.

Searchable electronic address directories-some public, some private-may be maintained and populated from the e-mail addresses stored in the University's contact database. The contents of such e-mail address directories are institutional data. Individuals may elect not to be included in public directories (refer to Appendix 1, Voluntary Lists).

The University reserves the right to reject any e-mail that could compromise the University network and any systems connected to it. Information Technology Services (ITS) will put appropriate processes in place to deal with e-mail containing viruses, to reject e-mail from known SPAM sites, and to scan incoming e-mail for SPAM, but the University has no liability for any damage resulting from e-mail.

Education and awareness of the policy

The existence of this policy will be communicated to all e-mail account holders at the University. New account holders will be informed at the time access to computing and communications facilities is given.


If there is reason to suspect that laws or University policies have been, or are being violated, or that continued access poses a threat to the facility, other users, normal operations, or the reputation of the University, access privileges of any individual may be withdrawn or restricted.

Following due process the University may take one or more of the following actions against anyone whose activities are in violation of the law or of this policy:

  • Restrictions or loss of access to any or all of the computing facilities and services at the University.
  • Legal action that could result in criminal or civil proceedings.
  • In the case of students, disciplinary action under the Council regulations for Student Academic Dishonesty and/or Non-Academic Student Discipline and Appeals.
  • In the case of employees, disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Appendix 1: Institutional E-Mail Lists

Electronic mailing lists hosted on University systems are subject to this policy and are categorized as either voluntary lists or involuntary lists. Compilers of such lists are considered to be the list owners and are expected to develop written operating procedures for those who use their lists and to monitor compliance. All list owners are encouraged to consider the benefits of moderating and controlling access to large lists. This applies whether the list has been created for one-time use or is maintained as a standing list compiled manually or from a central database.


Voluntary Lists are e-mail lists to which individuals may voluntarily subscribe, and from which they can remove their e-mail address at any time. Interest groups, service providers to employees and students, extra-curricular organizations and other groups that prefer to compile and maintain "client" lists beyond their own membership should do so on a voluntary subscription basis.

Involuntary Lists are e-mail lists that are automatically created and maintained based on individuals' association or role with the University of Saskatchewan. These lists comprise specific identifiable groups, such as all employees, all students, all faculty, department or division staff (employees) or class lists of students. Involuntary lists can be closed or open.

Closed lists: Individuals may not request exemption from the list. Examples of closed lists are all employees, all staff, and all students in a class or college.

Open lists: Individuals may request exemption from the list. An example could be a list of alumni. The list could be generated automatically, but individuals can request that their e-mail address be removed from the list at any time.


All e-mail sent to an involuntary list will be considered unsolicited, in that the recipient(s) has not requested the communication. Such e-mail messages may be sent (broadcast) to faculty, staff, and students only with the approval of the appropriate Data Steward or designate. Refer to Approvals for Use of Involuntary E-Mail Lists (Examples) for guidance.

The following steps should be followed when sending e-mail to involuntary lists:

1) The e-mail must clearly identify the sender (individual or unit).

2) The sender must ensure that recipients cannot determine the other recipients of the e-mail. This can be accomplished by blind carbon copying (bcc) each recipient in the e-mail message.

Approvals for Use of Involuntary E-Mail Lists (Examples)

The following levels are established for the creation and use of involuntary e-mail lists. These are very broad categories and are intended as a guideline in making decisions regarding appropriate units and Data Stewards for approving unsolicited e-mail.

Audience Type Approval  Usage Examples
All U of S employees, students, researchers  Associate Vice-President, Information and Communications Technology Information pertinent to all or a significant percentage of members of the campus community.
  Vice-President, University Advancement Emergency announcements
Students Associate Vice-President, Student & Enrolment Services Information specific to students.
Alumni  Director of Alumni Relations, University Advancement  Notification of events.
Notification of programs and   services for alumni.
Advertisement of Green & White on-line issue.
Employees (faculty, staff)  Associate Vice-President, Human Resources  Information specific to employees or retired employees.
All students of a college  The Dean of the college  Notification of events, programs, or services for students in the college.
All students of a class  The instructor of the class  Class notes.
Notifications of class events.
Employees of a college or department  The Dean or Department Head  Notifications of special events.

Operationally, approval within a business unit may be delegated.

Appendix 2: Best Practices

There is a wealth of information available in electronic and print form about using e-mail responsibly and courteously. The following are some helpful tips on e-mail etiquette.

Clearly summarize the contents of your message in the subject line.

Address your e-mail with care. The addresses in the "To" are for the people you are directly addressing. The addresses in the "Cc" are for the people you are indirectly addressing (the FYI-ers). Copy only those who need to be copied.

Use "BCC" (Blind Carbon Copy) when addressing a message that will go to a large group of people, or use a mailing list.

Use attachments sparingly, and only when necessary. Many people read their e-mail on clients or devices that can't handle them. Avoid opening attachments unless you're sure who they're from or what they are. This is a common method of passing malware.

Attachments should be less than one megabyte. Large attachments clog up servers and can be difficult to open.

Layout can be important. Short paragraphs and blank lines between each paragraph make it easier to read from the screen.

Take care with rich text and HTML messages. Some e-mail clients can't handle them.

"Reply to All" is frequently over-used. Use this only if you really need your message to be seen by each person who received the original message.

Delete chain letters as soon as you receive them. Do not forward them on to others.

Unsubscribe from any mailing lists that no longer interest you since they generate a huge amount of mail traffic.

Related Documents

There are no other documents associated with this policy.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Associate Vice-President, Information and Communications Technology
Phone: 306-966-8408