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Guidelines for Mailing Lists

This guidance is intended for all university faculty and staff who maintain and use mailing lists.

It is important to distinguish between mailing lists used to send communications for:

  • Marketing: sending information to persuade someone to buy something, sign up for something, or to promote particular goals or viewpoints.
  • Services: messages that are essential for the services the university provides (service news, updates, newsletters, announcements, etc.).

It is also important to distinguish between mailing lists used to communicate:

  • Externally: sending communications to individuals outside the university, including alumni, prospective students, and former students and employees.
  • Internally: sending communications to current faculty, staff, and students.

When maintaining and using a mailing list, there must always be a Legal Basis for doing so. There are different requirements for mailing by paper and electronic mailing, and for marketing messages and service communications.

Privacy of emails

Ensure that the names and email addresses used for the email distribution are not revealed to the recipients. Use “Bcc,” not “Cc.”"

Also, it is a best practice to use a genuine, verifiable email address as the originator of the email (i.e., the address that appears on the “From” line) rather than an address created by an external third party.

External mailing lists

External mailing lists are those mailing lists that include individuals other than current New School faculty, staff, and students. This includes alumni, prospective students, former students and employees, and the general public.

External mailing lists in paper format

If the mailing list is used to send communications in paper format, it is not necessary to obtain consent. The Legal Basis for sending these mailings is “legitimate interests.”

Recipients must be provided with the opportunity to easily and effortlessly opt out of receiving future communications in every mailing. This can be done by providing a telephone number or an email address.

External mailing lists in electronic format

If emails are sent to individuals external to The New School, it is necessary to distinguish between sending communications to business contacts and to private individuals.

Business contacts (“B2B”)

Business contacts are individuals who can be considered as representatives of their company, organization, or institution, such as students or academics from another university, or professionals from all sectors.

For B2B communications, “legitimate interests” is an appropriate Legal Basis and it will not be necessary to ask for consent. However, recipients must be given the option to opt out in every communication (e.g., by including an “unsubscribe” link in the footer of the email).

Private individuals

Before emails can be sent to private individuals, their affirmative (opt-in) consent must be obtained (however, see the section on “soft opt-in” below). This consent can be given, for example, through means such as signing up to receive a newsletter through a website, checking a box when registering for an event online, or signing up to a mailing list during an event.

If an existing mailing list exclusively or mostly contains private individuals who have not actively subscribed but have been added to the list for another reason (e.g., they were added without their knowledge, or because they failed to un-check an “add me to your mailing list” box), then each individual must be contacted to request their consent, and those individuals who do not reply within a reasonable time must be removed from the list.

Consent does not last forever; it must be renewed or refreshed after a reasonable period of time. A reasonable period of time will typically range somewhere between two and five years, depending on the nature and content of the communications.

Mixed lists

For existing mailing lists that contain both B2B contacts and private individuals, a pragmatic, risk-based approach is recommended. If valid consent was obtained when an individual was first added to the list, then there is no need to ask that individual to re-consent. If consent has not been obtained from the private individuals on the list, conduct a risk assessment to determine whether continuing to send emails is likely to cause offense or distress or whether receiving the emails is in the individuals' interests and/or to their benefit.

“Soft opt-in”

If an individual has purchased something from The New School such as a product or service, or attended a university-sponsored event, then it is not necessary to obtain their consent to send emails to them about similar products, services, or events, as long as they are given the option of opting out from receiving marketing emails at the time their email address is collected and an opt-out or “unsubscribe” option is provided in every email.

The “soft opt-in” rule also applies to alumni of The New School (but not outside donors); it is not necessary to obtain their consent to send emails to them about alumni events, news, and benefits, as long as they are given the option of opting out from receiving marketing emails at the time their email address is collected and an opt-out or “unsubscribe” option is provided in every email.

Suppression lists

If someone asks that The New School not send them marketing emails, then the sending of such emails must stop. Additionally, their email address must be retained for the purpose of ensuring they do not receive marketing emails in the future. This is known as a “suppression list,” and the Legal Basis for maintaining the list is “legitimate interests.”


The Information Security and Privacy Office requires the use of OneTrust’s “Universal Consent Manager” to obtain consent from Data Subjects and maintain consent records university-wide. Contact the ISPO for further information.

Internal mailing lists

For internal New School mailing lists (only current faculty, staff, and students as recipients), it is necessary to distinguish between mailing lists used for essential business purposes and mailing lists used for other reasons.

Most internal mailing lists will be in electronic format.

Essential business mailing lists

Essential business mailing lists are, as their name implies, used to communicate essential, "must know" information to people. Examples include changes to class locations, information about student assignments, important upcoming dates or deadlines (registration, add/drop, etc.), facilities information such as power failures or lack of heating/air conditioning, or university closures due to weather. These mailing lists can be university-wide, school- or department-specific, or program-specific.

Due to the nature of the information contained within these emails, subscription is mandatory and there is no option to unsubscribe. The Legal Basis for these emails is “performance of a contract”—the “contract” the university has with its students and employees to provide a service.

Other mailing lists

Other mailing lists may include non-essential information about, for example, extracurricular events, career opportunities for students, new course announcements, etc.

In this context, faculty, staff, and students are considered business contacts, and so consent is not needed to send these emails. Instead, the Legal Basis for sending them is “legitimate interests.”

Recipients of non-essential emails must be given the option to opt out in every communication (e.g., by including an “unsubscribe” link in the footer of the email).

Mixed content

If messages to internal mailing lists include both essential and non-essential information, they should be treated as if they only contain essential information. The importance of providing this type of information overrides the requirement to provide the option to opt out of non-essential communications.

For these, no “unsubscribe” link is required.

Document history
Date Author Description
Jul 2020 D. Curry
  • Initial publication

Parts of this guideline are adapted from the University of Edinburgh’s guidance for staff working with external and internal mailing lists, the contents of which are used with permission.