Student UConn email accounts are kept private
Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 00:12
Email ownership is not always a simple concept in the world of higher education, and as many students and professionals are coming to find, the answer of who owns your email account is not always obvious. UConn issues email accounts to all current students of all UConn campuses, incoming transfers, early college experience students in high school and even retains email accounts of students who may take time off. However, students can be assured that as long as they remain enrolled at UConn their email accounts are their property.
This clarification of ownership is important when considering the chance of a legal proceeding that may require email information as evidence.
“Email is considered a personal effect for a student,” said Jason Pufahl, who is responsible for protection of electronic assets of UConn. “You can sort of look at us a middleman. We’ve got access to the data, if there’s a case where we need to actually get at the data, if it’s a case with a student, the primary interaction is going to occur between wherever the lawyers are.”
Email ownership is often put into question as many professionals working with a university or company are given company email accounts, only to find that those accounts are actually public records. Under the Freedom of Information Act these email accounts are subject to public inquiry, and this includes any professional working with UConn.
Students working with the university, such as UITS students, are given split email accounts. They would receive one standard student email, as well as a university employee email, the latter of which is subject to the same public inquiry as above.
These student email accounts are contained in the UConn email system until four months after a student graduates or withdraws from the university.
“What we want to give the students the opportunity to finish mail conversations.” Josh Boggis, Operating systems programmer at UConn, said. “Unfortunately some students use UConn email address on job applications, and we definitely don’t recommend that because it will go away.”
“There’s discussion about length of time now about whether it should be permanent, or extending the perpetuity of the email accounts.” Pufahl said.
Furthermore, UConn email accounts are guarded against any sort of public email listings. Google mail not only provides free services for higher education students, but it also relinquishes data mining privileges of these accounts.
“We don’t provide the email information that makes it easy for someone to mass email students, however someone can still go through the directory phone book.”
The UConn email security system even extends more privacy functions such as allowing special students to keep their email hidden from directories through the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA.
“In essence students really do have a lot of control, and the university is not giving out email contact information,” Pufahl said.