The college has a responsibility to communicate effectively with students in order to help them achieve their academic goals. One method of communication is sending text messages to the mobile phone number that students have provided to the college. Appropriate use of text messaging requires that the college be selective in the types and frequency of text messages (or “texts”) that college personnel send to students. The protocols detailed in this procedure are designed to ensure that the college sends texts to students that (1) inform students in a timely manner of important issues they should address to meet their academic goals, (2) maximize the impact of texts to students, and (3) prevent students from receiving texts that are not directly related to their academic success.
Scope of the Procedure
The procedure does not address text messages to students from either of the two following sources:
- The college’s Emergency Management System
- Instructors communicating with students enrolled in their classes
Emergency communications and academic communications follow separate guidelines from this procedure. Text message communications from these sources, however, are subject to the restrictions under “Criteria for Allowable Text Messages” that limit texts to communications regarding students’ college-related business and prohibit text communications that are personal in nature.
This procedure addresses text messages to students from college divisions and departments that conduct necessary business with students. Texts to students are reserved for the following functions and departments:
- Academic Advising/Support (The Hub or faculty advisors)
- Financial Aid
Divisions and departments outside of these specified areas must seek separate approval to text students. The process for seeking that approval is outlined under the “Text Messaging Management” section of this procedure.
Student Permission for Text Messaging
By submitting an application to the college, an applicant will have established a legitimate business relationship with the college. New or readmitted students will establish additional permission to receive texts from the college when they provide a cellular phone contact number on their application or readmission form. Each form will specify that providing the cellular number grants permission for the college to send the student texts.
Students will have the ability to “opt out” of text messaging. Students who communicate to the college that they no longer desire to receive non-emergency texts will be blocked from receiving such texts. The college will use the Colleague system to record students’ desire to stop receiving non-emergency texts.
Protecting the privacy of students’ personal information is a requirement for the college. To protect students’ privacy, no text messages sent to students shall contain any protected personal information (PPI).
Criteria for Allowable Text Messages
Text messages that college personnel send to students must relate directly to actions that students need to take to ensure their academic success. These actions include but, with approval, may not be limited to the following:
- Providing needed documentation to the college
- Reviewing financial aid documentation and awards
- Ensuring that academic schedules fulfill degree, financial aid, and/or scholarship requirements
- Addressing financial obligations to the college
- Consulting with college personnel for academic planning and course scheduling
- Adjusting class schedules due to class cancellations or changes
- Receiving important documentation from the college
- Conducting academic support intervention
No text messages should be sent to students that do not relate directly to students’ college-related academic or financial business. College personnel should refrain from sending texts to students that contain general information that students can receive through other sources, including the college’s homepage, the Student Portal, or widespread distribution student emails. Such texts include, but are not limited to, those containing information regarding:
- Widespread college announcements
- College activities or events
- Course offerings
- Marketing campaigns
Other text messages that should not be sent to students include but are not limited to texts on events, contacts, requests, images, or conversations that are personal in nature and do not relate to students’ academic progress or business with the college. Employees who send texts to students must adhere to the following policies and procedures and are subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination for not following the requirements of these policies and procedures:
Text Messaging Methods
College personnel will use only TTC-approved platforms to text students. The Information Technology Division will keep and publish an updated record of approved platforms. College personnel should not use their personal communication devices or texting applications to text students.
Text Messaging Management
Each department or area with the authority to send text messages to students will designate specific positions or personnel to manage text messaging. Text management will include overseeing the scheduling of texts, reviewing the texts to ensure their consistency with texting guidelines, sending the texts to students, and keeping records of texts.
Departments have the option to ask students not to reply to text messages but to contact the departments through other means. In cases in which text recipients can and do reply to texts, the personnel with texting authority within departments will coordinate responses to these student texts.
If the need arises to develop and send text messages that have not yet been approved or identified within the text messaging procedure and guidelines, the Vice President of the department managing such texts will have the authority to approve the content and delivery of the texts. The managers of texting for each department should consult with their Vice Presidents for approval before unscheduled or unapproved texts are developed and sent to students. Managers also should check with other departments prior to sending new text messages to avoid conflicts or duplication.