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IT Service Status

Email Distribution Through Listserv


All members of the Northwestern Community and users of the University network.


Operational policies for the Northwestern Listserv facility including responsibilities of list owners.

Policy Statement:

This policy is subordinate to all other Northwestern University Information Technology (NUIT) policies.

Listserv is an electronic mailing list that offers an efficient way to disseminate information to large numbers of people and hold long-distance discussions among many people. Mailing lists are an easy way to reach a large audience quickly, by automating the distribution of e-mail to all those who subscribe to the mailing list. Mailing lists have become a critical component of scholarly collaboration. Many colleges and universities are also using them to facilitate and enhance classroom education as well as conducting the day-to-day administration of the University.

Background Issues:


The purpose of listserv at Northwestern University is to facilitate and disseminate information to eligible members and affiliates of the University. Listserv services are available to current faculty, staff and student organizations. The person responsible for managing a list is known as the "list owner." If the list owner leaves the University, then the current list owner must find a new list owner and identify that new person to the listserv manager. If no new list owner can be identified, NUIT reserves the right to disable the list or to request that the list be moved to a non-NUIT server.

Requesting a List

To request a list, complete the List application form.

Applicants with questions about the form can request assistance by contacting the listserv manager at

Note: Not all requests will be honored with a list. The listserv manager may ask for additional documentation regarding the granting of a list. The listserv manager may recommend other electronic conferencing technology that would better serve the purpose of the request. Other considerations that will determine the status of a list request include the relevance of the list to the education, research, or the administration of the University and the capacity of available resources within NUIT; including how the size of the proposed list will affect university electronic mail systems.


If there is reason to believe that the list will be used for illegal purposes, that list will not be established. If it is operational, it will be disabled after consultation with University administrators.

Lists are subject to all University e-mail policies. List members should not be pre-subscribed to a list without their knowledge or permission. Subscribers who request to be unsubscribed from a list should be removed.

Lists will not be created by NUIT from University databases. The list owner(s) or group members are responsible for subscribing or unsubscribing members to the list.

List owners are responsible for properly managing their list. The responsibilities of the list owner include:

  • Advising individuals who will be pre-subscribed to the list of the list's purpose and how to unsubscribe themselves.
  • Responding to subscribers' requests for removal from the list.
  • Assisting subscribers with subscribing or unsubscribing to the list.
  • Correcting subscriptions that are made incorrectly or in error.
  • Configuring or re-configuring their lists to change list attributes such as ownership, open/closed list status, moderated/un-moderated status, etc.
  • Creating and maintaining current and relevant files such as the subscribers, aliases, news, peers, ignored, info, or welcome files.
  • Responding to errors related to their list such as delivery and remove errors.
  • Responding to requests made by the listserv manager.
  • Staying informed about current listserv policy.
  • Attending list owner training or otherwise staying informed about list management.

Membership to a list is not a right of the individual. List owners have the right and are responsible for unsubscribing list members who abuse a list by sending off-topic mail to the list, misuse or abuse the resource or are abusive of other list members. The list owner is responsible for determining what constitutes off-topic or abusive mailings. The listserv manager and NUIT are responsible for determining if a mailing is abusive. Escalation procedures for disagreements regarding the interpretation and application of this policy should be escalated through appropriate University channels, i.e., Student Affairs or department manager. Abuse of a list should be brought to the attention of the listserv manager and/or other University authorities.

The distribution of large binary documents via listserv is discouraged. The Listserv host will refuse to send messages that are greater than 5M, and individual lists may be further restricted by the lists owner's.

Lists will be periodically reviewed for activity and continued conformance to the current listserv policies. Lists that are inactive or fail to conform to policy will be removed. Lists will be reviewed for activity on an annual basis. Lists with no activity for an extended period of time will be removed. Lists associated with courses will be removed at the end of each quarter, or at the conclusion of the course. List owners will be contacted by the listserv manager prior to removing the list. If an owner is unable to be contacted, the list will be removed.

To assist the list owner in performing these tasks, the listserv manager will maintain on-line documentation for these and other functions.

Important Dates

Last Review Date:

  • December 2013
Original Issue Date:
  • July 2003
Revision Dates:
  • September 2005, January 2009, January 2013