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Today@Sam Article

VP's Letter To SHSU Community Addresses Proposed Facebook Policy

Sept. 28, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May

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To the Sam Houston State University Community:

Last year, preparations began for the implementation of a social universe network at Sam Houston State University, which would incorporate voluntary membership and the strategic use of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, among other platforms, to connect the SHSU family and interested individuals to the university and to each other.

After reviewing social networking policies from other universities across the nation and making sure the mission of the Sam Houston State University was in no way compromised, the Marketing and Communications Department has begun to “roll out” the various platforms within the social universe with guidance from a proposed social media policy, the first being for Facebook.

Those who are familiar with Facebook know that it is a great communication tool, not only providing for the dissemination of information, but also for interaction and feedback.

The proposed SHSU Facebook policies and procedures conform to the Facebook Platform Policies, which are required for SHSU (or anyone) to have a Facebook page. These stipulate that all Facebook users understand the rights and responsibilities associated with privacy, sharing content and information, safety, registration and account security, and protecting other people’s rights. If we violate the policies of Facebook, we understand that they can shut down the entire SHSU page.

Under the proposed SHSU social media policy, no group is obligated or required to “opt-in” to the university’s social universe network. Just because a university department or organization has a Facebook page, it does not mean that they will have to join the SHSU Facebook platform. However, there are advantages to joining the network. Membership provides access to a much larger audience, allows use of trademarked SHSU branding on your accounts, and offers increased opportunity for sharing content relevant to your specific group.

Please note that the SHSU Social Media policy draft does not apply to personal Facebook pages. It is designed for academic and other university departments, social groups, and various student organizations.

Those groups interested in joining are asked to complete an application and provide administrative rights to the Marketing & Communications Department. This is done primarily to increase SHSU’s ability to respond to a crisis or emergency situation, so we can quickly communicate throughout the social media community by keeping our faculty, staff, students and others informed.

The issue of free speech and freedom of expression has surfaced over the past couple of weeks with regard to the SHSU social media policy. For those who believe that the policy has language in it that interferes with these freedoms, that is not the case. If groups have been following Facebook policies, they will not have issues with the university’s policies.

In its current state, the policy is a “draft document” which is guiding our roll-out phase and is being made available to the university community, so that potential members can have an idea of expectations should they choose to join the SHSU social universe network when it is fully available. The policy was designed to strengthen the university’s brand and assist members with reaching the audience they are trying to engage—not infringe on individual rights.

Social media is in a constant state of change and growth, and the SHSU media policy will be a “live” document to reflect those changes. There will be revisions as needed, and a university-recognized Social Policy Committee will be in place to review and evaluate the policy periodically. Members of the committee will include representatives from the Faculty Senate, Staff Council, and Student Government Association.

The opinions and suggestions of our faculty, staff and students are very important to us. Sam Houston State University has long been a place where ideas are freely exchanged and views are respected. If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to ask.


Frank R. Holmes
Vice President for University Advancement



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