Kansas Universities can fire faculty for tweets that are "contrary to best interest of the University"


#1

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#2

Which, of course, makes no sense unless they've previously banned letters to the editor of local and national newspapers, appearances on radio or TV talk shows, .... etc. Wonder how they plan to deal with lawsuits covering the entire point of tenure?


#3

They had better have a damn-specific document ready detailing exactly what language would be "contrary to the best interest of the University"


#4

Weren't we all celebrating A&E exercising this exact same practice?


#5

I think the difficulty here is the ambiguity of what is or is not in the best interest of the University. Also, when is someone a private individual versus representing an employer.

Another difference is whether you are an "at-will" employee (someone who can be fired for any reason... such as a television show getting cancelled) or a tenured professor.

Really, I think in television, if you do anything that threatens the broadcaster and/or it's revenue, your job is at risk. In a University, you're supposed to be able to pursue the goals of education, and not the shareholders.


#6

I don't know about that. If you're a bigot, you should have to own your remarks. Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from backlash.


#7

Is the faculty on Twitter a lot?


#8

Does A&E administer 6 public universities and 19 public community colleges?

or are they are privately held company?


#9

That's very weird. In Indiana, we were pretty much told that so long as we weren't talking about our positions in terms of university officials, the constitution trumps everything else. And this is supposed to be what working for a public employer is.

Now if you are doing it on work time (i.e., hourly employee), or purporting yourself to be a university official in an official capacity, or things like that? You can get fired. However, saying you work for a university and disagree with sentiments or policies or as several of us did, pretty much publicly state that the former govn'r of our state that was promised a job as a university president and most of used the f-werd saying what kinda f-hole he was...the most we got is a group email telling us that we should not be doing it with our official titles attached. Past that, HR never said a word.


#10

A&E is an entertainment company whose purpose in life is carefully-calculated pandering to the most profitable whims of the public.

The Kansas State University system is an educational institution.

These objectives are slightly different.


#11

I suspect that they are using the 'zOMG social media is fundamentally novel and unlike any prior communications medium or something!!!' perception as a smoke screen for the continued effort to get those uppity academics, and any remaining public-sector types in general, to shut up and behave like the good little cube drones they are supposed to be(insert some drivel about 'running it like a business' here).


#12

It's only ok to fire someone if it is the right kinds of people being fired for saying the wrong kinds of things.


#13

And of course, in Kansas, the wrong kind of things to say involve talking about basic biology and physics.


#14

Hmm - thanks for stereotyping the whole state. KU is probably the most liberal campus in the state and one of the few colleges that offers a paleontology degree. They aren't going to be letting anyone go for having pro-evolution statements or what ever you are referring to.


#15

I'll just leave this here: http://www.popehat.com/2013/09/05/ninth-circuit-clarifies-first-amendment-rights-of-public-university-professors/


#16

Sorry about that. It was a cheap shot. I'd say, though, that however much your statement might apply to the faculty, they don't choose the administrators who will actually be making these decisions.


#17

Science, sure that's protected by University norms. Not much to say there.

Comments that might be injurious to the football/basketball programs -- that's a whole other kettle of fish (to appropriate a term from marine biology.)


#18

As much as my institution pisses me off, they follow the law. And if they could get away with banning us, they most certainly would.

However, they haven't found a way to do it constitutionally. Pretty much if someone got fired from Kansas and pulled all stops to sue over it, they'd win pretty handedly. However, not many people have the resources to go up against an institution that will pull all stops themselves.


#19

My impression is that, at least in practice and possibly in law, there are no penalties whatsoever for putting totally unenforceable bullshit in a 'policy' or a contract (though you may need to slap a severability clause in there, so that you can put both total bullshit and probably-enforceable terms in the same contract...) which creates an obvious incentive toward doing so as much as possible.

It creates the appearance of general assent to that bullshit (even if it is only tolerated because it is usually ignored, documents just get more respectable as they age), and it's as good as binding against anybody who can't afford a fancy lawyer and a couple years of brutal court-slogging.


#20

Thanks for the PopeHat reference. Of course, university speech issues aren't just a First Amendment question - academic freedom is pretty solidly one of the core parts of the definition of a university, and if the legislature or the bosses want to fire somebody for their public opinions, they'd better be willing to deal with the whole problem and not pretend that there's some reason that academic freedom doesn't apply to Twitter because it's "Teh Internetz" or "Web 2.0" or whatever.

And yeah, as Mister44 said, KU is one of the more liberal parts of Kansas; are the hippies still harvesting ditchweed hemp that's left over from WW II rope-growing?