University of Kansas panel proposes rules for response to claims of improper social media use

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LAWRENCE, Kansas — An executive panel has formulated a procedure for how University of Kansas officials should respond when faculty, staff and student employees are accused of improper social media use, as part of efforts to resolve a long-running dispute over the school's social media policy.

The dispute began in September 2013 when university journalism professor David Guth posted a tweet criticizing the National Rifle Association, sparking a national uproar. In response, the Kansas Board of Regents adopted a policy allowing top administrators to discipline, suspend or fire staff who post messages on social media that are "contrary to the best interests of the employer."

That created another backlash, forcing the Regents to revise the policy by saying university employees' academic freedom and free speech rights would be protected.

University Senate President Jonathan Mayhew, professor in the department of Spanish and Portuguese, told The Lawrence Journal-World (http://bit.ly/1tMbJOa ) on Tuesday that he and many others on the university campus still do not support the social media policy imposed by the Regents. However, because the policy is in place, it is important to have a procedure to protect anyone accused of improper use of social media.

Under the procedure agreed to by the University Senate Executive Committee, a review panel would first determine if reasonable grounds exist to believe the policy was violated. A second substantive review board would then consider evidence and recommend disciplinary action. The draft procedure also details who would sit on the review boards, the timeframe they would work under and the accused's appeal rights.

Mayhew said the draft will be presented to the full University Senate Thursday with a goal of having a longer discussion in February and a vote in March.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

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