Academic restriction of social media

18 December 2013

If I worked at Kansas University, this post might get me fired

Why? Well, because this post is about the Kansas Regents’ decision to pass a new social media policy, which states that:

the chief executive officer of a state university has the authority to suspend, dismiss or terminate any faculty or staff member who makes improper use of social media.

Improper use means making a communication that:

— Directly incites violence or other immediate breach of the peace;

— Is made pursuant to the employee’s official duties and is contrary to the best interests of the university;

— Discloses confidential student information, protected health care information, personnel records, personal financial information, or confidential research data; or

— Impairs discipline by superiors or harmony among co-workers, has a detrimental impact on close working relationships, impedes the performance of the speaker’s official duties, interferes with the regular operation of the university, or otherwise adversely affects the university’s ability to efficiently provide services.

Reading this, I’d feel compelled to say that it 1) seemed like an effort to stifle criticism of the University, 2) veered periliously close to making it impossible for colleagues to disagree publicly, especially over matters of instiutional practice, policy, or pedagogy, and 3) similarly put anyone considering discussing his or her expeirence with, say, discrimination or harassment on notice that doing so could be harmful to his or her carreer.  Even better, this transparent attempt to initmidate and constrain faculty speech in public fora was imposed by fiat without prior consultation with the faculty, though–in a clear effort to satisfy some of Protevi’s likely objections–faculty were told that «the board would welcome input over the next several months.»

Presumably, this input shouldn’t be on social media, however, especially if it were critical or the process by which this policy were imposed, or its content.

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