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Social Media and Kansas State University

Chapter 8520

Created August 16, 2021

Table of Contents

.010 Social media creates opportunities

.020 With new opportunity, comes new responsibility

.030 Resources available to students

.040 Social media policy and prohibited conduct
.050 Social media defined
.060 Prohibited conduct

.070 Report a concern

.080 Review process

.090 Have questions about this policy?

.010 Social media creates opportunities

Social media use creates opportunities for us to stay informed, explore new ideas, express ourselves personally and engage in discussion with others around the world. At Kansas State University, we believe in open communication and encourage students to actively use social media to:

  • Communicate with each other.
  • Collaborate with alumni and industry experts.
  • Inspire civic engagement and collective action.
  • Produce and share creative content that benefits themselves and others.
  • Manage their personal digital identity.

.020 With new opportuntity, comes new responsibility

As new social media platforms emerge and existing functionalities evolve, we must remember that social media is constantly changing and therefore providing new ways of communicating. New opportunities for individual expression come with new responsibilities. We expect students, as K-State community members, to use responsible, ethical behavior on social media and be responsive to the rapidly changing world and a diverse society.

Because of the public nature of social media activity, messages and content can be easily viewed and shared with a wider audience beyond current fans and followers. Students should be aware of the potential for their social media messages and content to be interpreted by this new audience in a way that was not originally intended. Students are strongly encouraged to consider the ramifications and consequences of their messages and content before posting.

As social media becomes increasingly entrenched in our everyday lives, the issues around what we can and cannot say on social media are subject to conversation among us. At K-State, we are committed to this on-going conversation.

.030 Resources available to students

Students who have a concern regarding another student’s conduct or content on social media have access to the following resources:  

  • Report it to the social media platform. Each social media platform has its own guidelines and policies that define user violations, including harassment, bullying, infringement of others’ privacy and more. Students can report an offending account or content to the platform directly so that the platform can review and determine if the account should be suspended or the content be removed.
  • Unfollow, block or delete. Students can also unfollow an offending account, block offending content or delete offending comments that appear on their own profiles and accounts.
  • Report it to the University. If a student’s social media conduct is unlawful or otherwise has the potential to disrupt student learning or other campus operations, as defined by this Policy under Prohibited Conduct, students can file a complaint through the University’s Report It
  • Report it to campus police. If a student uses social media to threaten any crime (including a hate crime as defined by federal law) against another person, students are encouraged to contact the K-State Police Department.
  • Talk with a mental health professional. While social media provides opportunities for social connection, prolonged use of social media and exposure to negative content on social media can pose a serious risk to mental and emotional health, including feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress. Students experiencing these and other related signs and symptoms are encouraged to speak with a trusted mental health professional. The University offers these services at Lafene Health Center.

.040 Social media policy and prohibited conduct

Generally, personal, non-university-related social media profiles and accounts of students are not governed by this Policy, unless such use falls within one of the categories of Prohibited Conduct defined below.

Guiding principles. In alignment with Kansas State University’s Principles of Community, this Policy recognizes:

  • The right of each student to freely express themselves as afforded to them by the First Amendment.
  • Our individual and collective responsibility to contribute to an online community spirit of civility and decency.
  • The opportunity for learning and growth for all Wildcat community members.

.050 Social media defined

In a rapidly expanding world of electronic communication, “social media” can mean many things. For the purposes of this Policy, “social media” encompasses all forms of communicating or posting information or content of any sort on the Internet, such as communication posts, or other activity on your own or someone else’s social media profile (including, but not limited to Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok, YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), an online blog, any personal website, an online bulletin board or a chat room or any other electronic medium.

The University may review content shared by students on social media to identify content that is unlawful or otherwise has the potential to disrupt student learning or other campus operations, as defined in this Policy under Prohibited Conduct.

.060 Prohibited conduct

Kansas State University may take corrective action when it receives notice of social media conduct or content by a student (including an admitted student and/or applicant for admission) which violates:

  1. Any University policy.
  2. “Established and published standards for professionalism” (as defined below); and or state/federal law (where there is sufficient connection to and/or justified concern related to the University).

Prohibited conduct includes:

  1. The use of social media involving the use of K-State Technology resources in a manner inconsistent with the policies and procedures applicable to such use, including a K-State email account, K-State electronic media (including official University, departmental and student organization social media pages and accounts), and official K-State websites.
  2. The use of social media involving a true threat, which occurs where the speaker communicates a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals, such as threatening to assault an individual or group, or other conduct that substantially disrupts another’s work performance or the University’s ability to execute its mission in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, Threat Management Policy, or other University Policy.   
  3. The use of social media involving statements directed to inciting or producing imminent violations of law under circumstances such that the statements are likely to actually and imminently incite or produce violations of law or are in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, Threat Management Policy or other University Policy.
  4. The use of social media involving the publication or posting of materials, including comments or conduct constituting discrimination, harassment, retaliation or other conduct prohibited by the University’s Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Harassment or state/federal law; or the use of  social media is used to intentionally share false information about another in violation of University policy, that could damage their reputation, result in financial loss or cause mental suffering (otherwise known as defamation); or the use of social media  to intentionally inflict severe emotional distress on another individual as defined by state law; or the use of  social media to violate an individual’s privacy as defined by state and/or federal law. Harassment may include incidents such as “cyberbullying” and “doxing,” if such conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive and objectively offensive as to affect an individual’s access to the University’s education program and activities and otherwise meets the definition of a form of harassment under University policies.
  5. The use of social media to cause a material and unreasonable interference with the education, research, public service and outreach missions of the University. In determining whether conduct meets this standard, the University will consider evidence that the conduct is (a) unconnected to any legitimate educational purpose and (b) made with the purpose and effect of causing a material and disruption of an individual’s participation in the University’s educational program and activities. In determining whether conduct meets this standard, the University may, in its discretion, consider evidence that the conduct is connected to a well-founded expectation of disruption—especially one based on past incidents arising out of similar conduct.
  6. The use of social media in a way that violates the University’s Student Code of Conduct or any established and published standards of professionalism for a student defined as: any department, program, course, instructor, classroom or club/organization rules, standards or expectations addressing ethical and professional conduct standards of a student’s prospective/current profession and/or affiliation, as set forth on the University’s website, in a course syllabus, in student/club/organization handbooks/expectations, or in other materials distributed or communicated to students by the University (which rules, standards or expectations may be more restrictive than the standard University student policies).

.070 Report a concern

Any faculty, staff or student (including applicants for admission) may file a complaint through the University’s Report It page for review of the alleged behavioral concern.

.080 Review process

The Dean of Students, Director of Student Support & Accountability or Director of the Office of Institutional Equity may initiate a review of the alleged behavior to gather evidence and information. Potential violations of this Policy will be reviewed through existing processes such as the University’s Threat Management Policy, the Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Harassment and the Student Code of Conduct. The review process can include any or all of the following:

  1. Educational conversation. The Dean of Students, Director of Student Support & Accountability or Director of the Office of Institutional Equity or their designee may initiate an educational conversation with the student and/or the complainant as the first step in the review process. This educational conversation may stand alone as an appropriate measure in responding to the complaint.
  2. The University will consider evidence relating to content, context, intention and impact in evaluating whether social media usage violates this Policy. Individuals are encouraged to promptly and thoroughly document violations of this Policy by preserving the entirety of the behavior that they believe constitutes a violation.
  3. Mutually offending behavior. When two or more students allege there are mutual violations of this Policy arising from the same incident, the University may find both parties responsible for a violation. The mutually offending behavior may be treated as a mitigating factor in determining sanction, even if there are not mutual allegations.
  4. Educational sanctions. When a student is found responsible for violating this Policy, educational sanctions, such as educational conversations with faculty or staff, or attendance at events or classes intended to promote educational outcomes, will be considered and included as appropriate. Notwithstanding the above, violations of this Policy will result in disciplinary action in accordance with other applicable University policy violations, up to and including suspension/expulsion from the University.
  5. Unlawful conduct. If any person is alleged or found to have used social media to threaten any crime (including a hate crime as defined by federal law) against another person, the behavior may be reported to the K-State Police Department.

.090 Have questions about this policy?

Students and members of the K-State community who have questions about this social media policy are encouraged to contact Student Support and Accountability.