Kansas Board of Regents Approves Vague and Overbroad Social Media Policy

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of Kansas

In December 2013, the Kansas Board of Regents enacted a broad and vague system-wide speech code restricting “improper use of social media” by faculty and staff, which included a provision authorizing punishment for expression considered “contrary to the best interest of the university,” or that “impairs … harmony among co-workers.” Joined by the ACLU of Kansas and the National Coalition Against Censorship, FIRE wrote to the Board on December 20 to express its concerns with the policy. A faculty workgroup created by the Board proposed revisions that would have protected faculty speech rights while allowing universities to punish unprotected speech. Despite overwhelming support from Kansas faculty and a May 1, 2014, letter from FIRE encouraging the Board to adopt the workgroup’s draft, the Board rejected the workgroup’s language in favor of its own revisions, which failed to address key provisions that continue to endanger faculty’s academic freedom and expressive rights.