Jacks email privileges have guidelines, ethics to follow

PAT BOWDEN News Reporter

More rules are attached to the Jacks email address for students than a regular Yahoo or Gmail account. 

Every enrolled student and faculty member of SDSU receives an academically driven email address from the university and is required to follow the Board of Regents Acceptable Use Policy. The policy outlines the expected behavior for using student assets on campus as well as the student conduct code.

This conduct code encompasses anti-harassment, misrepresentation of information, the influence of abuse, discouraging individuals participation and a number of other ethical guidelines, according to the student code.

“The student conduct code is essentially an agreement of how a student will function and act while they are on campus through student and academic affairs,” said Ryan Knutson, the assistant vice president of technology. “The students are free to use the [Jacks] account to use it within the conduct code.”

While there is no one going through student emails to check for inappropriate use of the email, there is a filter system that helps keep student and faculty emails safer and less cluttered.

“In terms of student accounts, we monitor for spam and there is a virus checking component cloud, but no other content monitoring happens in the student email,” Knutson said. “We attempt to be good stewards of privacy when it comes to email.”

The Department of Technology and Security, IT and administration do not filter student email content because they see that as an invasion of privacy. Only in rare, extreme cases will email content be checked.

“It’s a very rare case, we take every possible step to not have to [filter content], we consider the information specific to the individual and we try to respect that,” Knutson said. “If we had a warrant we would work with the student to get that information, but it would only be in an extreme case.”

Spam, on the other hand, is heavily filtered so student and faculty emails receive a small number of spam emails if any at all. 

Neither the BOR Acceptable Use Policy nor the student conduct code strictly state that school email addresses cannot be used for personal, non-school related emails. That being said, some students such as Ryan Sailors choose to use the email address solely for university purposes.

“It’s strictly for school. I have a business email, a personal email and a school email … I try to prioritize that email so I can avoid getting spam or non-school related subjects,” Sailors said, a freshman history major with a pre-law emphasis.

Alongside the rules that apply to school email addresses, there is also a level of ethics students follow when using an email address that has their first and last name on it.

“You have to be professional when emailing teachers, and it teaches you how to talk with people in a respectful way,” sophomore nursing major Emily Borchert said. “[I wouldn’t use it on] personal shopping, Craigslist, social media accounts – that kind of stuff…If you send something it’s a reflection of who you are because it has your name on it.”

Other students use these ethics to one degree or another, but one such instance where formality is common is when emailing a potential employer.

“[The jacks email] has your first and last name in it, so you’re pretty much throwing your name out there whenever you use it,” Sailors said. “If it’s a professor [I address them] as doctor, or if it’s a classmate it’ll be a ‘hey’ – just basic etiquette … if [I’m contacting] a more prestigious job maybe [I would use] the state one.”

Having the name of the university already associated with a student’s name can be a positive impact when first getting in touch with other professionals, Knutson said. 

“It is an appropriate email address in your senior semester to land credibility, it’s not an email that everybody can have,” Knutson said.

Students may use their emails indefinitely for the rest of their lives because they are not deleted once a student graduates. Instead, they go on a watch list that deactivates the account once it has not been logged into for a certain period of time. 

For students who have the same name as another current student or alumni, a number is added in their email name that denotes them from the other individual. For these students, there is no alternative solution.

“Unfortunately similar names require that additional information be added to the email address to keep it unique,” Knutson said. “Those who have common names will sometimes have numbers or middle initial added to their email address upon creation.”