University ditches controversial social media rules

“It is almost unheard of for a university even to publicly contemplate coercing student organizations to hand over their social media passwords,” Kissel said. “It also is rare for a university to make the mistake of confusing student organizations’ expression with the official expression of the university. … SHSU made the right choice by abandoning the idea that student organizations are responsible for maintaining the university’s corporate brand image.”

A committee of campus administrators, faculty members, and staff was created in November to reconsider the school’s stance on student groups’ Facebook and Twitter presence, according to a report in The Houstonian, a student newspaper.

SHSU’s social media rules were designed so unofficial campus groups that did not speak for the school were not mistaken for official SHSU spokespeople, Frank Holmes, vice president for university advancement, wrote in a letter published by The Houstonian.

“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.

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.

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