Professors want social media plan suspended

1/11/2014

LAWRENCE (AP) — More than 80 distinguished professors from the University of Kansas and Kansas State University are asking the state Board of Regents to suspend a new social media policy while it is reviewed.

LAWRENCE (AP) — More than 80 distinguished professors from the University of Kansas and Kansas State University are asking the state Board of Regents to suspend a new social media policy while it is reviewed.

In a letter to the regents, the professors expressed "continued concern" about the policy, which they contend prevents university faculty and staff from exercising their freedom of speech and restricts academic freedom. The policy, which the regents approved in December, allows a university CEO to discipline employees, up to firing them, for posts on social media that affect the university's ability to carry out its functions. It was enacted after a professor tweeted criticism of the NRA last September.

After widespread criticism that the policy is too vague and restricts free speech rights, the regents gathered university representatives to review the policy and suggest changes.

The letter asks the regents to suspend the policy while the review is conducted. The letter is scheduled to run as an advertisement, paid for by the professors, in the Manhattan Mercury, Lawrence Journal-World and Topeka Capital-Journal.

"The policy is in place right now. It's not been put on hold, as far as I know," Ann Cudd, Kansas vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies and a distinguished professor of philosophy, said. "What we consider a dangerous policy is in force."

Professors who spoke to the Journal-World said they wanted to use their positions to protect staff and faculty.

"My take on this is that this policy affects the most vulnerable faculty members," said Philip Nel, a distinguished professor of English at Kansas State, who helped to write the letter and organize its signing and publication. "The distinguished professors are potentially those who have the most power to speak out."

Breeze Richardson, a spokeswoman for the regents, said in an email that "continued dialogue (on the policy) is welcome and encouraged."

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