Anytime a group in authority issues a “communications policy” or makes changes to it, people can expect the new document to have a quieting, chilling effect on employees.
That’s what happened at Washburn University, where a new communications policy resulted in faculty and staff interpreting it to mean they couldn’t speak to the press or lawmakers. Employees thought the policy from the Washburn Institute of Technology meant they had to get their administrators’ permission before speaking publicly, The Associated Press reports.
University President Jerry Farley said that’s not the case. Employees can share their opinions as long as they say it’s their viewpoint and doesn’t represent the university.
The confusion adds to the chilling effect the Kansas Board of Regents social media policy has had. That action followed a University of Kansas journalism professor’s tweet, criticizing the National Rifle Association.
Sure there is the First Amendment right to free speech. But the cost of speaking out for many often is too high.