Controversial social media rules spark student backlash

“The policy was designed to strengthen the university’s brand and assist members with reaching the audience they are trying to engage—not infringe on individual rights,” Holmes wrote. “For those who believe that the policy has language in it that interferes with these freedoms, that is not the case.”

The social media policy stems from a commission launched last year by SHSU President Dana Gibson.

In his letter, Holmes stressed that student groups would not be required to join SHSU’s “social media universe,” but reminded the campus community that membership “provides access to a much larger audience, allows use of trademarked SHSU branding on your accounts, and offers increased opportunity for sharing content relevant to your specific group.”

Holmes said groups that want to join the university’s official Twitter and Facebook presence must “complete an application and provide administrative rights” so SHSU can better keep in touch with students, faculty members, and others on campus.

Having groups sign up to be part of the universe will “increase SHSU’s ability to respond to a crisis or emergency situation, so we can quickly communicate throughout the social media community by keeping our faculty, staff, students and others informed,” Holmes wrote.

An SHSU spokeswoman did not return phone calls from eCampus News before press time.

Colleges and universities across the country have expressed concern about trademarking school names on popular social media sites, Kissel said, but SHSU is likely the first to take such a restrictive posture.

“No reasonable person would confuse a student organization with being the officially recognized spokesperson of the university,” Kissel said. “Everyone already knows those groups speak only for themselves.”

The campus protest involving the free speech wall created even more controversy around SHSU’s handling of free speech rights.

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