Social media policy inspired by prof's anti-NRA tweet may cost Univ. of Kansas its accreditation

Kansas Board of Regents enacted social media policy after KU journalism prof wished death on children of NRA members.

Policy allows termination of faculty, staff who interfere “with the regular operation of the university” through social media.

Higher Learning Commission accreditation guide requires that schools be “committed to freedom of expression.”

A new social media policy which would allow for the firing of employees for problematic social media use may cost the University of Kansas (KU) its accreditation.

The new policy, unanimously passed by the Kansas Board of Regents in December, allows the termination of a faculty or staff member for “making communication through social media that. . .interferes with the regular operation of the university, or otherwise adversely affects the university’s ability to provide services.”

The change came in the wake of a KU journalism professor’s tweet wishing death on the children of National Rifle Association (NRA) members.

KU is scheduled for an accreditation review with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) in February of 2015, according to an article in Lawrence Journal-World, a local news source.

The HLC accreditation guide requires that "The institution is committed to freedom of expression and the pursuit of truth in teaching and learning.,” and have “fair and ethical policies for its governing board, administration, faculty and staff."

Susan Twombly, a KU professor of higher education and chairwoman of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, who will be involved in the review, said she is “deeply concerned” that the HLC will rule that the new policy violates these guidelines.

Accreditation is crucial in receiving federal student aid and money for research at the school.

Board spokesperson Breeze Richardson told Campus Reform that the change in policy was "indirectly" related to the tweet posted by journalism professor David Guth in September.

“#NavyYardShooting The blood is on the hands of the #NRA,” read David Guth’s tweet.

“Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters, he continued. “Shame on you. May God damn you.”

Guth was suspended over the tweet, but Guth returned to KU on Oct. 24 — but only to work on administrative tasks, not as a professor.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter @kctimpf