Kansas Regents to vote on social media policy for university employees

05/11/2014 11:27 AM

05/11/2014 11:27 AM

Members of the Kansas Board of Regents are expected to vote this week on a revised social media policy that would allow university leaders to fire faculty or staff who violate the policy.

The Board of Regents Governance Committee approved the policy Tuesday. Regents Chairman Fred Logan said the committee made some changes to the proposed policy in response to public comment from people opposed to the policy.

Logan said the revised policy includes “strong support of academic freedom,” and will go to the full regents for a vote May 14.

The regents developed the social media policy after an anti-NRA tweet in September 2013 by David Guth, a University of Kansas journalism professor. Guth’s tweet caused an uproar over the bounds of social media.

The policy, which established disciplinary actions school leaders could take for improper use of social media, was criticized by free speech advocates. The regents then appointed a workgroup to provide revisions.

Under the revised policy, improper use of social media could include speech that could incite violence, discloses confidential information or “is contrary to the best interests of the employer.” The chief executive officer of a university, or the CEO’s delegate, could make use of progressive discipline measures, including suspension, dismissal and termination. Under the policy, social media covers blogs and social networking sites.

Kirk McClure, a professor in the Department of Urban Planning at Kansas University, said the social media policy would hamper the ability for Kansas schools to compete for top faculty.

“The social media policy makes it even harder to sell KU to top faculty candidates. A new faculty member can be disciplined, even terminated for a tweet,” McClure said.

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