KU’s Student Senate Votes to Protect Students’ Speech Rights
March 19, 2012
by Azhar Majeed
The University Daily Kansan reports that the University of Kansas' (KU's) Student Senate has acted to protect students' speech rights when expressing themselves online or in social media. The Student Senate's policy changes, which are subject to the approval of KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, will be reflected in the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
The Kansan reports:
Article 8 of the code on campus expression was updated, and expands student's [sic] freedom of speech. Students cannot be punished for what is said on social media websites or through other online communication unless it is disruptive to the University's operations.
While we're waiting to see the exact language of the changes, this is seemingly good news for KU students wishing to express themselves freely on social media sites and in other online platforms, on matters both big and small. Students at a public institution of higher learning such as KU should expect to enjoy their full First Amendment rights when engaging in such expression. Indeed, in this day and age, it is paramount. Unfortunately, at schools such as Sam Houston State University and the University of Illinois, FIRE has recently learned that that understanding isn't always present.
So, kudos to the Student Senate for doing its part to ensure that KU students' online speech and use of social media is not subject to the same restrictions contemplated at those institutions.
Perhaps for its next act, the Student Senate can get the university administration started on revising KU's speech codes. That the university maintains two "red light" harassment policies has already been covered in the Kansan. Hopefully, the Student Senate can turn its attention there next.