Taking to social media to test the social media policy

Almost immediately after the Kansas Board of Regents passed a new policy on improper social media use in December, people across the state and country took to social media to express their views.

They tweeted. They Facebooked. They started email chains.

A Facebook group called “Kansas Universities Faculty & Staff Against Regents’ Speech Policy” sprang up the next day. As of now, it has 1,765 likes.

Now some critics of the policy are using social media to test its reach.

The regents passed the policy unanimously in December. It allows presidents of regents universities to discipline, up to firing, employees that make posts on social media against the best interests of the universities or that interfere with their operations, among other violations.

The regents have said they are open to revising the policy and have set up a work group to review it and make recommendations. In the meantime, with the policy as written still in place, several groups of faculty and staff members have called for the suspension of the social media policy while under review.

This week Phil Nel, a distinguished professor of English at Kansas State University and vocal critic of the policy, began what he called “an experiment in civil disobedience.”

Using the Twitter hashtag “#ksspeech,” Nel encouraged his followers and colleagues to “tweet anything you like” to find out just what you can and can’t say on social media if you’re an employee of the university. As Nel writes on his blog Nine Kinds of Pie:

So, friends, Kansans, and allies of
freedom of speech everywhere, join me
in a little experiment in civil
disobedience. If you’re on Twitter,
tweet something and tag it #ksspeech
— that’s “ks” (the postal abbreviation
for Kansas) plus the word “speech.” 
If there’s still room, tag @ksregents
as well. What should you tweet?
Anything you like. A quotation. A
recipe. A hypothesis. An observation.
A pun. Something else.

I will be tweeting one such statement
each day until the Kansas Board of
Regents rescinds its unconstitutional
social media policy. But I don’t see
why I should have all the fun. Join

A sampling of the tweets so far: