Earlier this month, the Kansas Board of Regents created a “workgroup” to review its overbroad and vague new policy on “improper use of social media” by faculty at Kansas public colleges and universities. As my colleague Will Creeley reported last Thursday, the Board refused to suspend the policy during review, leaving faculty still at risk of being fired for posts that “impair … harmony among co-workers” or are “contrary to the best interest of the university,” among other things. But happily, the workgroup has already shown greater respect for faculty free speech rights—the Lawrence Journal-World reported Friday that the group plans to “disregard th[e] policy and instead compose its own proposal.”
This is welcome news considering the broad range of protected speech currently punishable under—and chilled by—the policy. Last week, Board spokesperson Breeze Richardson told student newspaper The Kansas State Collegian that the workgroup would recommend changes to be made to the policy but that the policy would not be revoked or completely rewritten. Though some provisions—such as the prohibition of incitement to violence—may remain without posing constitutional issues, others will require substantial changes in order to protect faculty rights, and it is reassuring to see the faculty workgroup acknowledge as much.
The group is scheduled to meet next on February 1, plans to accept comments on a draft in mid-March, and will submit its proposal to the Board by April 16. Check back to The Torch for updates.
Image: Chi Omega Fountain, the University of Kansas - Wikipedia