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4.6-4 GUIDELINES FOR EMPLOYEES’ PERSONAL USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Saginaw Valley State University recognizes the importance and utility of social media in communicating on a personal and professional level. Employees may engage in occasional personal use of social media in the workplace so long as such use does not consume significant time or resources, interfere with operations and productivity, or violate university or department policies.  

Employees must recognize that SVSU reserves the right to monitor use of its computer systems. Employees should use caution communicating with students on social media channels, as SVSU has established that a student’s university email account is an appropriate mechanism for official University correspondence (4.6-2 Student Email Communication Policy); social media is an auxiliary, unofficial means of information exchange.

Transparency

Employees should clearly identify personal communications. Individuals who have a personal account and also maintain an official SVSU social media channel, must use care to ensure the SVSU channels do not contain personal communications. Those who maintain social media channels should add a disclaimer to their personal account profile that states their thoughts are their own, and not that of SVSU. Employees should disclose their affiliation with SVSU when talking about work or SVSU-related matters on social media channels. 

Protected Speech

These guidelines are not intended to restrict free speech or the principles of academic freedom. However, the United States Supreme Court has held that public employers generally have authority to discipline their employees for speech in a number of circumstances, including but not limited to speech that:

  1. Leads to inciting or producing imminent violence or other breach of the peace;
  2. Implies the speech is aligned with the employee’s official duties, but is contrary to the best interests of the employer;
  3. Discloses any confidential student information, protected health care information, personnel records, personal financial information, or confidential research data; or
  4. Impacts discipline by superiors or productivity among co-workers, has a detrimental impact on close working relationships for which personal loyalty and confidence are necessary, impedes the performance of the speaker’s official duties, interferes with the regular operation of the employer, or otherwise adversely affects the employer's ability to efficiently provide services.
  5. Fails to disclose affiliation with the university while using personal social media channels to talk about work or SVSU-related business.

Violations

When determining whether a particular use of social media constitutes an improper use by an employee, the following shall be considered:

  1. Academic freedom principles (see Faculty Contract, D17);
  2. The employee’s position within the university;
  3. Whether the employee used or publicized the university name, brands, website, official title or school/department/college or otherwise created the appearance of the communication being endorsed, approved or connected to the university in a manner that discredits the university;
  4. Whether the communication was made during the employee’s working hours; and
  5. Whether the communication was transmitted utilizing university systems or equipment.

Employees who use social media improperly may be subject to discipline by the appropriate supervisor who has the authority to make use of progressive discipline measures pursuant to university policy, up to and including suspension, dismissal and termination. Existing university grievance and review processes shall apply to any such action.

 

Adopted 8/20/15 EVP-ABA