Work group makes final touches to policy revision
Social media work group meets for last time before presenting their revisions to KBOR
The work group entrusted by the Kansas Board of Regents with reviewing the governing body’s policy on social media use at regent universities held its final meeting last Friday at Emporia State.
Since January, the work group has been developing recommendations for revising the KBOR social media policy and has also drafted a report supporting their suggestions.
Co-chaired by Kevin Johnson, general counsel at ESU, and Charles Epp, professor at the University of Kansas, the work group is composed of 13 members, representing all six regent Kansas universities, as well as the KU Medical Center.
“Rather than editing the existing policy, we started with what would be the ideal policy in our perspective,” said Julia Keen, associate professor in the Department of Architectural Engineering and Construction Science at Kansas State University and a member of the special committee.
During the meeting, they worked on the finishing touches of the revision and the report as members of the work group shared feedback from their campuses. Epp said they only had to “tweak the language a bit,” and the ideas in the draft remained the same by the end of the meeting.
The work group developed six proposed revisions to the original social media policy passed last December.
Among them, the first revision calls for the policy to be moved in the KBOR policy manual from the “Suspensions, Terminations, and Dismissals” section to another area labeled “Other,” in order to change the underlying tone of the policy.
The second revision would have KBOR affirm their commitment to academic freedom and the rights of the First Amendment. Epp said this was the main concern on regent university campuses.
“Faculty and staff really want to be assured that academic freedom and their rights under the First Amendment to comment on and participate in public discussions remain protected,” Epp said.
Johnson said the revisions also emphasize the authority of universities as employers to respond appropriately to misuse of social media, and suggest listing examples of appropriate and inappropriate use of social media as guidelines.
“We just tried to have a much nicer tone, to be more affirming and to hopefully be instructive,” Johnson said. “Confusion makes people nervous, and university people tend to be more nervous.”
Epp, Johnson and Keen said they do not know for certain how or when KBOR may modify their policy after viewing the work group’s recommendations.
“I really believe they’re going to find it useful,” Johnson said. “I don’t know that they’ll take everything that we have and make it the policy, but I am…very confident that they will seriously consider everything we’ve done and … make revisions to their policy based on what we’ve done.”
The group will present their work to KBOR at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, April 16 in Topeka, but will send their recommendations and report to the governance body earlier. The document will also be made available to the public.