Last week, eCampusNews drew attention to the news of Sam Houston State University's (SHSU's) decision to ditch its proposed social media policy. The policy, which would have required any student group bearing the SHSU name to join the university's "social media universe," was the subject of controversy and student protest.
Under the proposed rule, those student groups choosing not to comply would have been required to change their groups' names. The policy would also have required student groups to hand over their emails and passwords, and allowed administrators to edit student group pages.
The abandonment of the policy is due in part to the efforts of student activists-efforts which sparked an interesting FIRE case earlier this fall. As Torch readers well know, during a "free speech wall" event hosted by multiple student groups protesting this proposed policy, an SHSU professor used a box cutter to cut out an insult against President Obama that a student had written on the wall.
eCampusNews quotes FIRE's Adam Kissel, who rightly points out that a student group's expression is not the same as a university's expression:
"It is almost unheard of for a university even to publicly contemplate coercing student organizations to hand over their social media passwords," Kissel said. "It also is rare for a university to make the mistake of confusing student organizations' expression with the official expression of the university. ... SHSU made the right choice by abandoning the idea that student organizations are responsible for maintaining the university's corporate brand image."
The proposed policy would have been a clear violation of student rights at SHSU. FIRE is pleased to see more attention being given to its flaws in hopes of preventing any further such proposals.