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Social Media Policy

Social media are media used through web-and mobile-based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue and engagement, and they have become a staple of social dialogue and action in the new millennium. Websites and user-generated content include, but are not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram and blogs. Knowing the etiquette and scale of social media can be the key to understanding how to operate in the twenty-first century.

Students and employees at Stevenson University are expected to follow institution-wide social media uses, limitations, and practices. Social media communication is public and visible, and posting inappropriate texts, pictures, videos, or images could provoke institutional or legal ramifications for the individual or group. The University and its representatives may monitor and follow non-protected or public social media communications to help create a balanced and positive environment, and when the University is acting in compliance with certain other requirements under federal and Maryland law.

This policy should not be interpreted to violate the National Labor Relations Act to the extent employees’ posts or comments on social media are made in an attempt to engage in protected concerted activity related to their employment at the University.

A current list of official University user-generated and social media websites can be found on the online Student Life page at http://www.stevenson.edu/student-life/online-student-life.

Examples of items that would be deemed inappropriate for Stevenson’s official pages and websites include:

  • Personally identifiable material including, but not limited to, full names, government identifiers, e-mail addresses, physical addresses, or health information of individuals following FERPA guidelines.
  • Threatening, harassing, or discriminatory posts.
  • Posts that incite or encourage violence or illegal activities.
  • Material that could be reasonably interpreted as containing obscene, offensive, or sexual themes.
  • Information that could compromise public safety.
  • Comments that are off-subject or out of context from the original post made by or to the University (i.e., trolling).

Stevenson University students and employees are considered representatives of the institution and are expected to set a favorable example to others outside of the University community. This principle can carry over to posts made on non-SU websites or web pages, where students and employees may still be held responsible for the subject matter and actions that they post publicly. References to individuals, groups, or any other entity, whether in jest or not, reflect upon the University. Accountability and responsibility come with any social media activities. Good judgment and character are values expected of the University and its community members, whether in-person or online via social media outlets. Violation of this policy by an employee will be referred to Stevenson University’s Vice President for Human Resources/Title IX Coordinator or designee. Violation of this policy by a student will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct. Violations may result in sanctions being issued.

In accordance with Maryland law, however, the University will not engage in any prohibited conduct related to seeking access to a personal electronic non-Stevenson University account belonging to a student, an applicant, prospective student, or an applicant for employment.

The University, however, reserves all rights to monitor and follow social media communications in compliance with certain other requirements under federal and Maryland law, including the University’s investigatory obligations under Title IX. The University and its representatives may also monitor and follow such communications owned or provided by the University, or related information available on the University’s property, which includes information that is contained or stored on University systems because students or employees have placed them there by using the University’s servers, electronic equipment, wi-fi networks, printers, or other hardware, software, or electronic devices to access, create or transmit them. Students and employees should not expect that information coming through or contained on these systems is private. Personal accounts which do not utilize University systems identified above are another matter and are protected under Maryland law.

If an individual believes that he/she has been asked to grant access to a personal account improperly or have concerns or questions about this policy, he/she should contact the Vice President for Human Resources /Title IX Coordinator or designee. The University will not retaliate against any person for reporting violations of this Policy or for refusing to provide protected information or access related to a nonpublic personal electronic account. Further information about the use of University systems is available in the University’s Email Usage and Acceptable Use Policies contained on the Portal.

Definitions

Engagement refers to the activity of any party on the social media website. Engagement includes the posting of updates, articles, pictures, videos, comments, or any other action that can be performed on social media websites.

Official Pages are pages that the University maintains and manages for the benefit of the user who has liked, subscribed, or joined the social media page.

Official Representatives are defined as users with permission and the ability to modify Official Pages of the institution. These individuals could be staff, faculty, or students.

Unofficial Users are defined as those individuals who post using their personal social media accounts who are not Official Representatives and do not have permission to post on the University’s behalf.

Stevenson University’s Official Pages will be monitored and managed by Official Representatives of the University. Official Pages will be updated and used as resources and connections to the SU community, both internally and externally to campus life. By posting pictures, videos, links, or any other items submitted on Official Pages, individuals consent to allowing SU to use that engagement in the future. Any engagement posted to the Official Page by Official Representatives can be considered legitimate information. Any engagement posted by Unofficial Users does not constitute a representation of the University. Engagement posted by Unofficial Users on the Official Pages does not represent the ideas, opinions, views, or beliefs of the University. Such content, however, is still subject to the University’s policies and procedures. The University and its representatives are not responsible for any information that could be perceived as inappropriate, wrongful, false, hurtful, or illegitimate. However, the University and its Official Representatives may remove engagements of that nature as they are discovered.

Students or employees who post information on public sites using the University’s system or servers should be aware that the University’s systems retain information and are subject to University access. Users have no expectation of privacy in those materials, and they are subject to monitoring and search by the University or by those who obtain access to these systems through lawful means.

(Approved August 2016)

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