Co-Lin board OKs social media policy

Published 6:00 pm Friday, August 5, 2011

Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other socialmedia websites have rapidly increased in prominence, particularlyamong college students, prompting Copiah-Lincoln Community Collegeto adopt a policy guiding usage of social media by collegerepresentatives.

    The school hopes the policy will assist its in purpose of educatingand preparing students, said Natalie Davis, Co-Lin pubic relationsdirector.

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    “Students need to learn the proper use of social media,” Davissaid. “They cannot simply post anything. Employers routinely scansocial media sites.”

    Negative content posted via social media can damage a student’semployment potential, Davis said.

    The policy, approved at Thursday’s board meeting, states in part:”Any communications, whether via College Internet resources,non-College resources, social media, blog or otherwise which coulddamage or bring disrepute to Copiah-Lincoln Community College, itsemployees, or any members of the Board of Trustees may result indiscipline up to and including termination of employment foremployees and revocation of College issued scholarships forstudents.”

    Concern was expressed at the board meeting as the feasibility ofenforcing the policy. Co-Lin President Dr. Ronnie Nettles concededthat such enforcement will not be comprehensively possible.

    “There is really no way to police it (the policy), but if we dofind out about it (violations) this allows us to bring them in andpoint out they are violating the policy,” Nettles said.

    Nettles said he had two primary concerns he hopes the policy willaddress: excessive use of sites like Facebook by employees at work,and negative postings by students.

    To that end, the policy discourages all use of social media byemployees while at work and outlines several guidelines forstudents to follow.

    Among those guidelines is the requirement that any social mediapage representing Co-Lin – such as student groups – must beapproved by college officials, administered by a college official(such as a club adviser) and monitored weekly for inappropriate ornegative postings.

    Nettles affirmed Davis’ remarks as to the need for students tounderstand the potential ramifications of social media.

    “Students may think it’s private, but it’s really not. Anything youput up can potentially be seen by anyone,” Nettles said.

    Nettles also said that student groups, and particularly the leadersof student groups, should be expected to set an example of positivebehavior.

    “My belief is a student with a scholarship or an athlete or someonein an leadership position has a responsibility to the college,”Nettles said.

    The policy does not give explicit guidelines for social mediapostings by students not representing the college through anorganization.

    The policy also states, “Please note that nothing in this policy isintended to hinder individuals’ First Amendment rights to freedomof speech or freedom of the press.”

    In other business, Co-Lin’s board approved the addition of amilitary technology degree, the only one of its kind in the state,to its degree offerings this year. The program will allow servicemembers to transfer military training courses for academiccredit.

    The board also recognized three board members for long terms ofservice: Jack Case, 10 years; Rickey Clopton, 10 years; and MaryCleveland, 15 years.