The Kansas Board of Regents has approved an amended version of a controversial social media policy. It allows staff to be disciplined, even fired, for violating the rules through social media postings. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, the changes don’t go far enough for some university employees.
Board of Regents Chairman Fred Logan points out that the policy now includes language specifically saying that the board values free speech and academic freedom, and that those must be considered when looking at a possible violation of the rules.
“This will be the strongest and most explicit statement in support of academic freedom that appears anywhere in our policy manual,” says Logan.
But the board left in the ability to discipline employees, which drew dozens of opponents like Philip Nel, a distinguished professor of English at Kansas State University. He says higher education, research and teaching need to be free to include debate and argument about all topics.
“It’s about discussing ideas, sometimes controversial ideas, and trying to find out which ones are better. And we figure out which ones are better though a somewhat disharmonious process of argument,” says Nel.
Violations of the social media rules include concrete examples like comments that incite violence or disclose private student information. Also included is a more broad violation, comments deemed not to be in the best interest of the university.