Mass Texting Policy and Guidelines

The University values constituents’ preferences in receiving information and messages. This includes messages to mobile devices through Text Messaging.

The University will use Text Messaging to effectively communicate while being a good steward of information, respecting the privacy and wishes of the recipients, and adhering to applicable state and federal laws, including but not limited to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

This Policy addresses non-emergency Mass Text Messaging that includes notifications and information from authorized University offices.

Text Messaging may be 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.

Policy Overview

The Division of Marketing and Communication (MarComm) is responsible for the review and facilitation of communication planning for using Mass Text Messaging. Refer to the text messaging guidelines for further details.

  • Any other use of a University Text Messaging System by unauthorized units or personnel is prohibited.

Emergency Notifications are managed by Campus Safety and must be sent through the University-approved emergency notification system.

Process Overview

The University is obligated to protect students’ personally identifiable data and contact information that is not public directory information. See Office of the Registrar, Privacy/FERPA.

Individuals must opt in for receipt of Text Messaging so that their personal details held by the University are updated with any changes to their mobile phone number.

University officials sending text messages are responsible for confirming that:

  1. the message is timely
  2. the message is valid
  3. the wording is appropriate and content is relevant to the intended audience
  4. the recipient list is correct and limited to the targeted population
  5. the message must not contain confidential or restricted information. Additional details on data classifications can be found in University Policy IT 13.10.051 - Data Classification.
  6. the content of message is timely and actionable

Text Messaging must not be used:

  1. as the sole means of communicating an essential message or announcement
  2. for personal matters e.g., items for sale, farewell messages
  3. to promote the sale of products or services

All Mass Text Messages must be tagged with the appropriate identifier (e.g., school, administrative office) so that the recipients of the text can see immediately where it originated.

The University official responsible for sending the Text Message(s) must monitor all replies to text messages and respond appropriately.

Non-emergency Mass Text Messages must be sent through University-Text Messaging System(s).


"Emergency Notifications” means a notification of a crisis and/or emergency, or significant disruptions to University operations, including activities which pose a threat to public safety, as determined by the Director of Campus Safety or his/her designee.

“Mass Text Messaging” or “Text Messaging” for purposes of this Policy means non-emergency messaging that includes notifications and information from authorized offices sent to a predetermined group of persons with whom the sender is not in direct, personal contact on a regular basis. As an example, Mass Text Messaging may include those issued under the authority and supervision of University Advancement for the business purposes of solicitation, fundraising, event, or engagement activities directed to alumni, donors, friends of the University, students, and individuals who have opted-in to receive text messages for these Advancement purposes. 

University Text Messaging System(s)” means the text messaging systems that have been approved by the University’s Information Technology Division. See University Policy IT 13.10.040 – Technology Acquisition.

Best Practices

Approval Before Sending

To apply to use the University Text Messaging System, you must have your message approved by your respective department and must also submit a plan regarding how you will incorporate text messaging into your overall communications strategy to the Division of Marketing and Communications. This plan should include a description of the target audience, the purpose of messages, the frequency or schedule of text messages and the responsible party in the office generating messages.

Establish the sender, i.e., the University, upon the first text message.

The university should limit the number of approved senders within the service, i.e., limit who has access to the University Text Messaging System Service as a Sender.

Proper Consent

Only those who opted-in to the University Text Messaging System should receive Non-Emergency text messages. Additionally, students/faculty are allowed to opt out of receiving non-emergency text messages at any time.

  • Every text message sent to recipients should hold information on the procedure to opt out of the texting service.
    • Messages should contain “text STOP to end” (can be abbreviated “txt STOP 2end”).
  • The FCC requires an automated method available for recipients to opt out of future text messages. 

All information of recipients of the service must remain secure and confidential at all times.

Text Messages as a Supplement for Information

While the text message serves as a quick avenue for communication, it should be supplemented or followed by an additional form of communication e.g., an email or paper notice to ensure that all students, including those without a mobile phone, receive the message.

Messages should include essential points plus the instruction: ‘check your email for full details or ‘full details to follow by internal post’

The saying “less is more” is highly applicable within the University Text Messaging System. To avoid high opt-out rates, text messages should be kept to a minimum and not overused.

Messages should be no longer than 160 characters.

Be courteous of your audience's schedule; text messages should be sent during regular business hours.

URLs should be shortened to create a visually appealing text message.


Write up a plan for MarComm to approval that details a description of the target audience, the purpose of messages, the frequency or schedule of text messages and the responsible party in the office generating messages.

Designate one staff or faculty member from each major department and academic unit as liaisons to work with MarComm during the initial implementation period.

Require initial introduction to and training on platform functionality for all departmental texting liaisons

Require liaisons to read the “User Guide” developed by the platform owner.

Require liaisons to ensure content of text messages and other communications are accessible to those with disabilities who use assistive technology such as screen readers. 

Require liaisons to serve as part of an oversight and governing body during the initial implementation period.

Schedule a recurring meeting with MarComm for liaisons to report on the ongoing development of their SMS communication channel, best practices, conflict resolution, etc.

Require regular reporting and tracking to MarComm of successful campaigns and less successful ones.

Track text campaigns and their release dates on a week-by-week calendar to avoid the creation of text tsunamis. This tracking is critical to predicting communication peaks and valleys throughout the academic year.

Quality texting is a two-way form of communication. Staff/faculty must be prepared to respond to the recipient if they text back.

While text message often presents an informal avenue of communication, senders using the University Text Messaging System should keep in mind communication etiquette:

  • Limit the message to 160 characters or less
  • Avoid using improper shorthand
  • Maintain a formal and professional tone
  • Address the recipient as “you”
  • Limit the use of abbreviations
  • Ensure that any hyperlinks are shortened and clearly demonstrate a connection to the University of Denver or other approved partners.

What is "Text-Worthy"?

Within most fellow University Texting Policies, they establish definitions for what information justifies the need for the use of the University Texting Service.

  • Western Michigan University defines “Mass Text Message” as identical or substantially similar messages sent to more than 50 addresses in one or more batches.