Subject:Email and Computer Usage by Faculty and Staff
Date:Thu, 24 Oct 2002
Sent to:All faculty and staff
Sent from:Lee L. Huntsman, Provost
 Weldon E. Ihrig, Executive Vice President

Email is made available to University faculty and staff solely for the purpose of facilitating effective business operations. Regulations promulgated by the Washington State Executive Ethics Board place significant constraints on non-University related use. Under those regulations, employees may use University-provided email for personal communications in a manner comparable to what is allowed for personal local use of University telephones.

During this last year, the State Executive Ethics Board has clarified the permissible uses of email and the internet given today's work environment. Consistent with the amended rule on the use of state resources (WAC 292-110-010), faculty and staff can have limited personal use of computers, electronic mail and the internet, so long as that use:

  • Is of little or no cost to the state.
  • Is brief in duration, occurs infrequently, and is the most effective use of time and resources.
  • Does not interfere with the employee's official duties.
  • Does not disrupt University business.
  • Does not disrupt other employees or obligate them to make personal use of state resources.
  • Does not compromise the security or integrity of state property, information or software.

State law continues to prohibit the use of University computers to access computer networks or other databases, including the internet and electronic mail, for personal business-related, commercial, campaign or political purposes, or to promote an outside business or group or to conduct illegal activities. Additionally, employees are prohibited from allowing any member of the public to make personal use of state computers and computing resources. Email and other uses of University computers may constitute an Ethics violation if the use is political, commercial, or excessive. Examples of improper or excessive use are included in the FAQ maintained by the Executive Ethics Board.

It is important to recognize that while limited personal use of email may not result in an Ethics violation, all email messages - unlike telephone calls - are public records and are subject to public inspection under state public records law.

If you have questions or concerns about this issue, please reply to