Gun Violence Trigger Social Media Policy Failure


In a podcast I recorded with Doug Bonney, the chief counsel and legal director for Kansas’s American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), we delved into the complex web of issues surrounding the Kansas Board of Regents’ social media policy.

As a public relations agency leader, I was interested in the Kansas Board of Regents social media policy story due to its potential impact on their reputation, the crisis communications component, stakeholder engagement challenges in the educational community, the issue of academic freedom advocacy, the media relations side, and as a trend monitoring case study. This one covers all the crisis management bases.

This policy, which has sparked controversy and raised concerns about academic freedom, is entangled with money, politics, and the pressing problem of gun violence.

Money Talks: The Influence of Funding

One of the key aspects discussed in the podcast was the influence of money in shaping social media policy. As universities often rely on funding from various sources, including state funding and private donations, they are inevitably influenced by the priorities and interests of their financial backers. The podcast highlighted how specific donors and organizations may pressure universities to adopt policies that align with their agendas.

Political Pressure: Navigating the Landscape

The intertwining of politics with academia is another critical dimension explored in the discussion. Bonney pointed out that public universities that receive state funding can be particularly susceptible to political pressures. In the case of Kansas, a state known for its conservative solid leanings, there can be heightened expectations for universities to toe the political line.

Gun Violence Concerns: The Catalyst

One of the driving forces behind the Kansas Board of Regents social media policy is the concern over gun violence. Recent incidents of gun violence on college campuses have understandably raised alarm and prompted calls for action. However, the question arises as to whether the policy, which restricts what faculty and staff can say on social media, is a suitable response to this concern or if it potentially infringes upon academic freedom.

Academic Freedom at Stake

The heart of the matter is academic freedom, a fundamental principle in higher education. Faculty members and researchers have long enjoyed expressing their views, conducting research, and engaging in open discourse without fear of censorship or retribution. As discussed in the podcast, the social media policy has ignited concerns that it may curtail this cherished freedom by imposing limitations on what can be said, particularly on contentious issues like gun violence.

Conclusion: Navigating the Intersection

The podcast conversation with Doug Bonney sheds light on the complex intersection of money, politics, gun violence concerns, and academic freedom within the context of the Kansas Board of Regents’ social media policy. It underscores the importance of critically examining the motivations behind such policies and their potential impact on the core principles of higher education. As this issue unfolds, it prompts us to consider the delicate balance between security and preserving essential academic values.

In a world where these discussions are increasingly relevant, the implications of policies like this extend beyond the borders of Kansas, serving as a significant topic for broader academic discourse and reflection.

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