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K-State Today

December 24, 2013

Message from Faculty Senate regarding the Kansas Board of Regents' social media policy

Submitted by Faculty Senate

Dear Faculty and Unclassified Professionals:

As you may have seen in the news or through other media outlets, the Kansas Board of Regents approved a new policy which defines and regulates improper use of social media. This policy change affects all Kansas Regent Universities’ employees, including faculty and staff at Kansas State University.

The creation of this policy was done with no input from university faculty or administrators; it was put near the end of an 84-page agenda without notification or announcement. The Council of Faculty Senate Presidents made a statement at the Kansas Board of Regents meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 18, voicing our concerns about both the content and the timing of the policy change. We asked that the vote be delayed to a future boarde meeting to allow for faculty input. The board chose to proceed with a unanimous vote to pass the policy language. The chair of the board, Fred Logan, clarified that all policies are dynamic can be reviewed and changed as needed.

There are two significant issues related to this policy:

  1. The Kansas Board of Regents passed a significant and unprecedented change with no faculty input, usurping the concept of shared governance, and ignoring my personal objections at the board meeting.
  2. The policy clearly infringes on university employees’ First Amendment freedom of speech rights, and ignores completely the concept of academic freedom, which is vital for the free exchange of ideas that defines the very essence of a university.

Faculty Senate Leadership encourages anyone who feels they do not agree with this policy to communicate their thoughts to the board president and CEO, Andy Tompkins, atompkins@ksbor.org, and ask that the communication be forwarded to each of the 9 regents. Since the regents are appointed by the governor, I also encourage your correspondence to be sent to Gov. Brownback and Kansas State University’s director of governmental relations, Sue Peterson.

The timing of the introduction of this policy is unfortunate; the end of the semester and the holiday season can be intensely busy for university faculty and staff. Faculty Senate will be working on a document articulating our opposition to this new policy following the holidays, but we strongly encourage individuals to express their position independently. We hope that substantial input from university faculty and staff will help convince the board that this not an acceptable policy.

I wish health, safety, and the creation of wonderful memories for you and your family over the holiday season!

Julia Keen, P.E., HBDP, PhD
Faculty Senate President
Associate Professor
Bob and Betty Tointon Engineering Chair
Architectural Engineering and Construction Science
Kansas State University
248 Seaton Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506

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