KU Senate passes resolution opposing social media policy

A resolution was unanimously passed at the University Senate meeting on Thursday concerning the Kansas Board of Regents social media policy.

The resolution opposed the policy on the grounds that the policy infringes upon First Amendment rights, conflicts with principles of academic freedom, hurts the recruitment and retention of faculty and imposes a threat to the higher education systems of Kansas. It also asked that the policy be suspended pending the recommendations of the work group, which should be announced in April.

“We felt that it was important to keep putting pressure on the board about this,” faculty senate president Chris Steadham said in the meeting. “The idea more than anything else is to make sure that they know there is broad and strong opposition to this policy and across the state. Now moving forward this is simply a first step.”

Provost Jeffery Vitter also addressed the Senate on the topic of the social media policy. In his presentation, he announced that the University would be creating a policy of its own to deal with any issues that may arise. The policy would build off how the board defines improper social media use and give the chancellor the ability to ask for an ad hoc committee that would help advise the University on how to handle a situation.

The provost hopes that the policy will be presented at the Feb. 11 University Senate Executive Committee meeting.

“I think that having some prescribed plan so that we can deal with situations in a very timely way, but get a thoughtful look at the situation will position the University more effectively to deal with things in a rational way and I think delay a lot of concerns,” Vitter said in his presentation.

After the Provost’s presentation, faculty representatives questioned how the university hopes to deal with the policy in the future. The Provost thinks that, from a practical standpoint, the focus should remain on the revised policy that the work group creates.

Representatives also questioned how the policy could affect students. The provost recognized that it indirectly affects students because it changes the environment they are in. Other representatives agreed.

“Students see it as a potential degrading of the degrees that they are working hard to earn,” faculty representative, Katherine Clark said.

The provost encouraged faculty to continue to express their opposition to the policy, so that the board is aware of the concerns, in the hope of revising the policy.

“It’s worth pointing out that this policy is flawed and it would be better off suspended,” Vitter said.

“I think it would have a very positive effect on continuing to put a spotlight on this issue to the board and emphasize why the current policy is not wanted. I’m not going to advocate for that in my role, but I think there’s a great value for that.”

— Edited by Tara Bryant

 

  • Updated Feb. 6, 2014 at 9:21 pm