Related Policies and Additional References:
Mass text messages are defined as identical or similar messages sent to more than 50 addresses or phone numbers in one or more batches.
This policy provides guidance for St. Mary’s use of mass text message distribution to effectively communicate with various constituent groups while appropriately stewarding information, respecting the privacy of recipients and adhering to applicable state and federal laws. The policy is to support best practices and minimize the overuse of texting.
St. Mary’s uses mass text message distributions to complement existing forms of communications such as letters, emails and social media and web posts. Mass text messages must support other forms of communication and cannot be the primary means of communication.
St. Mary’s may text prospective and current students, faculty, staff, or other related constituent groups regarding matters that affect recruitment, health and safety, academic success and other purposes related to the University’s mission.
This policy applies to any St. Mary’s-affiliated person who communicates to large groups of people within and beyond the University community via text message for an official, university purpose. This includes text messages sent from a university-owned device, university-owned/registered account or university office. It also includes text messages sent through third-party services on behalf of any unit of the university and from any authorized university employee or agent acting in their official capacity.
This policy applies to any text message application or system purchased, administered and or created with St. Mary’s resources that sends batch messages to 50 or more recipients. No other system may use St. Mary’s University’s name, logos, name plates, icons, branding or any other indicia without permission from the Office of University Communications.
Emergency Text Messages
Emergency communications are distributed through the RAVE Alert System for weather-related delays and closures, power outages and any situation threatening our campus community’s health and safety. Trained personnel in the Office of University Communications, Office of Human Resources, University
Police Department and Information Services are the only St. Mary’s community members authorized to send RAVE alerts.
St. Mary’s automatically enrolls students and employees in RAVE, the emergency notification service used by the University. Students and employees can choose to opt-out. RAVE alerts are messages sent only for emergency purposes and situations, or Clery compliance warnings and notifications. RAVE alerts are not sent for non-emergency and non-Clery reasons.
Non-Emergency Text Messages – Opt-in and Opt-out
Except for emergency communications, only those individuals who have opted-in will receive non-emergency text messages from the University. Opt-in is an action by which someone requests to receive St. Mary’s communications via text message. Only individuals who have opted-in to text messages will receive non-emergency texts.
An opt-out option must be offered to individuals receiving text messages from the University to be respectful of recipients’ privacy and compliant with state and federal laws. Opt-out is an action by which someone who receives St. Mary’s communications via text messages indicates that they no longer want to receive text messages from St. Mary’s. Individuals who opt-out of a texting system will not receive text non-emergency messages.
Text Message Content and Review (Emergency and Non-Emergency)
A text message must be clear from the content of the message that it is from St. Mary’s University so that recipients can see immediately from where it originated.
Example: StMU Admissions Office wants to know if you will join us this Saturday. Hi, I am XX, from StMU Office of Student Retention.
All units that seek to send text messages must be authorized by University administration. All units sending text messages must coordinate text message distribution plans with University Communications. University Communications must review all text messages and templates to ensure best practices are followed and their purpose is mission related.
The review process will include:
- Accurate content and wording that fits the institution’s voice and brand
- Appropriate videos, images and branding
- Appropriate length, preferably no more than 160 characters
- Ensure no Personally Identifiable Information (PII), HIPPA-, or FERPA-protected information is included
- Ensure the communication is not personal
- Ensure the opt-out legal requirement is met for external communications and not included for internal groups
- Select a distribution time for optimal results and avoid conflict or overlap with other messages to the same group