Administrative Services

Text Messaging Policy

File Code: PRO.TEXTING.POL
Approval Date: 02/08/2016
Approved By: President

Background

Text messaging is an additional method of communication that Western Illinois University may utilize to reach out to the University community. Mass texting is used by authorized university officials to relay important and time sensitive information such as emergency notifications, campus closures, academic deadlines, and notices critical to student academic success. For the purposes of this policy, mass text messages are defined as texts sent to a predetermined group of persons with whom the sender is not in direct, personal contact on a regular basis. Text messaging may also be utilized for a targeted message to an individual student that is time sensitive in nature.

Guiding Principles

  • Preserve texting as an additional channel for critical communications as outlined in the Categories of Messages section of the policy
  • Keep texts to a minimum to ensure that students remain in the texting program and do not opt-out because of overuse
  • Messages must be directly related to student safety or student academic success

Scope

All mass texts originating from any University office, or from any authorized University employee acting in his/her professional capacity, are included in this procedure.

Categories of Messages

Texting is reserved for information which is considered critical and/or time sensitive. The following are the categories of mass text messages permitted under this policy:

  • Crisis and/or emergency, or significant disruptions to University operations, including activities which pose a threat to public safety, as determined by the Vice-President of Administrative Services or his/her designee
  • Information critical to student academic success (currently limited to): critical academic calendar dates, course-related texts from instructors, and academic advising notifications
  • Other critical messages as determined by the President, Provost, or their designee

Text messages should not be used for:

  • General information to large populations
  • Repeat reminders of text messages already circulated
  • Personal matters (e.g. items for sale)
  • Solicitation

Text messaging must not be used as the sole means of communicating an essential message or announcement. The text message must be supplemented by some other means of communication (e.g. electronic, paper notice) to ensure all students receive the information.

Student Opt-In/Opt-Out Feature

  • Students are prompted to enter/verify their contact information for the Emergency Alert System at the beginning of each term, but may access this information at any time through STARS in order to make corrections
  • Students are prompted to verify their current contact information in STARS after the tenth day of each semester, and are able to opt-in or opt-out to receive course-related texts, academic advising texts, and/or student academic success texts at any time

Mass Text Approvers

Prior to being sent, mass text messages need to be approved by:

  • Vice-President of Administrative Services or his/her designee (Emergency Alert messages only)
  • Provost and Academic Vice-President or her/his designee (All non-emergency mass texts)

University officials must ensure the text message is:

  • valid and in compliance with the Text Messaging Policy
  • the wording is appropriate
  • the circulation list is correct

Procedure for non-emergency text:

  • Administrative offices wanting a mass message sent on behalf of their office must contact the Provost and Academic Vice-President one week in advance with text wording, date to be distributed and the message
  • Messages should be no longer than 160 characters
  • Limit use of abbreviations
  • Mass non-emergency text messages must utilize the University provided texting system operated through the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research (CITR)