New social media policy under review

The work group created by the Kansas Board of Regents shared a preliminary discussion draft of the social media policy with Kansas universities on Monday.

A major change in the draft policy is the shift from a disciplinary tone to an advisory tone. The current policy gives universities the power to punish or fire faculty for improper use of social media; the new draft gives advice to faculty and is more of a guideline.

“The revision encourages use of social media that serves the mission of the University, as well as reminding faculty and staff that they shouldn’t violate the law on social media,” said Charles Epp, a professor in the office of Public Affairs and Administration, and co-chair of the work group.

The group was formed to make revisions and recommendations to the Board on the social media policy they approved on Dec. 18, which was met with much criticism from faculty and administration.

“We had two broad goals: to meet the charge of the work group, which was to recommend a policy to the regents and to do that in a way that is consistent with the values of academic freedom and the first amendment,” Epp said.

So far the draft has been widely supported as the type of social media policy addressing proper use of social media without infringing on the free speech rights of faculty and staff.

“The draft policy was excellently constructed and a hallmark of concerned colleagues who understand academic freedom and freedom of speech,” Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering and President-Elect of the State of Kansas Conference of the American Association of University Professors Ron Barrett-Gonzalez said.

The shift to an advisory tone helps address many of the concerns of faculty, such as protecting the free speech of employees. According to Barrett-Gonzalez, another faculty concern was how the policy could damage the degrees students are earning.

“Some damage has been done, but if the Regents adopt the policy, it’d be a great step to repair the damage done to the reputation,” Barrett-Gonzalez said. “It’s a shame that this wasn’t adopted from the start.

Students and faculty can view the draft and add comments on the University Governance web page. The deadline to submit feedback is March 28.
The draft policy will be reviewed at the next work group meeting on April 4, where they will make revisions based on the comments made by the universities. The final draft will be recommended to the Board on April 16.

  • Updated Mar. 5, 2014 at 10:37 am