January 02, 2014 11:30AM
Pittsburg State University will have a voice in a statewide discussion of the new social media policy recently adopted by the Kansas Board of Regents. In a letter to the campus issued today, PSU President Steve Scott said that Pittsburg State will be represented on a workgroup that will review the policy and make recommendations about possible changes in time for the board’s April meeting.
“I’m pleased to report to you the board has now reached out to campuses throughout the state and requested their help in forming a small workgroup to make recommendations for modifying the policy,” Scott wrote.
The board adopted the new policy on Dec. 18 and almost immediately, the change triggered criticism from free speech advocates in and outside of Kansas. In response to that criticism, the board announced on Dec. 31 that Andy Tompkins, president and CEO of the board, would work with the university presidents and chancellor to form a workgroup of representatives from each state university campus to study the policy.
In his letter, President Scott noted that the timing of the board’s decision, which came after the end of the semester, made it difficult to engage the campus in a worthwhile discussion.
He wrote that in the week prior to the board’s action, as details of the proposed policy began to emerge, he and Provost Lynette Olson began meeting with a number of campus stakeholder groups to make them aware of the purpose of the policy and alert them to the direction the statewide discussions appeared to be headed.
“Dr. Olson and I asked these leaders to share this information with their groups and, as a result, a number of concerns were identified and communicated to me in writing,” Scott wrote. “I passed these concerns on to the board’s general counsel and visited with the board chair about the reaction I was receiving to this policy.”
Scott wrote that the beginning of a new semester provides the opportunity to engage the campus fully in the discussion.
“I’ve waited until now to write to you about this issue because I believe it deserves our campus’ full attention,” Scott wrote. “That would have been difficult to do during the holiday break when most faculty and staff were away from campus and had their attention rightfully focused on family and friends.”
In his letter, President Scott acknowledged the challenges of addressing the changes brought on by technology while at the same time protecting core traditions and principles.
“Many of you have worked with me for a number of years, and over that time, I would hope you recognize me as an ardent supporter of free speech, academic freedom, and the overall importance of maintaining a campus culture of openness and transparency,” Scott wrote. “I can assure you that I’ll work diligently in the coming weeks to speak in support of these ideals.”
The president asked members of the campus community to share their thoughts and concerns with leaders in their areas or with him, directly. He also directed them to a new campus webpage with links to information about the policy, which he said would be updated as new information becomes available.