How do I know when it’s OK to throw away old documents, files, etc. from my department? (02/10/2014)

All records have a lifecycle, and understanding a record’s purpose will enable you to determine how long this lifecycle will endure. Some records can be destroyed relatively quickly while others require preservation for an indefinite period of time in the University Archives. Records document our management decisions, provide historical references of transactions and events, demonstrate regulatory compliance and provide litigation support.

At Kent State University, all records must be disposed of based on the institution’s retention schedule. Departments are responsible for maintaining the respective records from their area and disposing of them in the proper way.

A “record” is defined by the Ohio Revised Code and University Policy 5-15.1(B)(1) as:

Any document, device, or item, regardless of physical form or characteristic, including an electronic record as defined in section 1306.01 of the Revised Code, created or received by or coming under the jurisdiction of any public office of the state or its political subdivisions, which serves to document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operation, or other activities of the office.

Other mediums such as email, videotape, etc. are considered “records” as well.

The university’s retention schedule is organized by type of record and indicates the length of time each record should be kept before being destroyed or reviewed for historical value. This length of time is determined by how long the record remains useful and any state or federal requirements. University departments must reference the university’s record retention schedule and gain approval before disposal of records.

Some records listed in the General Schedules, which contains routine types of records, can be disposed of without approval. However, the Office of General Counsel and the University Archivist must approve destruction of all other records.

The Record Destruction Form is available to request destruction approval.