Kalamazoo College Social Media Policy

The purpose of Kalamazoo College’s Social Media Policy is to provide users with reasonable expectations for engagement on social media platforms and ensure optimal balance in the benefit-risk equation relative to the College’s image and reputation.

Social media platforms are communication tools. Social media users at Kalamazoo College build and engage with audiences in an interesting, engaging, honest and relevant manner.

Reading this social media policy carefully will help employees utilize chosen social media platforms in a legal, ethical, efficient and effective manner.

For the purpose of this social media policy, “College social media accounts” includes, but is not limited to, departmental, divisional, unit and Office of College Marketing and Communication accounts. With the exception of the naming of social media accounts, this policy does not address accounts created and managed by student groups and organizations. Users of College social media accounts, as well as student groups and organizations, are encouraged to follow Kalamazoo College best practices posted on the Brand K website.

The performance expectations outlined in this social media policy are subject to the procedures for review and disciplinary action outlined in the Employee Handbook.

Establishing Social Media Accounts at Kalamazoo College

The Brand Communication Team (BCT) reviews requests for and approves College social media accounts. Before requesting the establishment of a social media account at the College, employees should be able to articulate their audience and their goals and objectives for social media engagement.  Measurement is expected, with specific metrics derived from the set goals. Managers of areas with social media accounts are expected to ensure measurement takes place. The BCT and members of the Office of College Marketing and Communication are available to assist in the formation of goals and metrics.

BCT members will:

  • Confirm the user is authorized to represent a Kalamazoo College identity.
  • Evaluate whether the new social media initiative meets a need, avoids redundancy and is an appropriate tool for the objective it seeks.
  • Provide assistance in setting up college-related social media accounts.

Profiles/accounts associated with social media sites that represent a Kalamazoo College program or department must be created using official Kalamazoo College email accounts. On sites permitting more than one administrator, at least one member of BCT (when an individual name is required) or the social media email, social.media@kzoo.edu, must be designated as a co-administrator. On sites that do not permit multiple administrators, the profile should be created using a Kalamazoo College email distribution list. At least one member of the BCT or the email social.media@kzoo.edu must be on the list.

Use of Kalamazoo College’s Name and Visual Identifiers

  • The BCT approves the use of the College’s name, logo, avatars and other visual identifiers on social media accounts.
  • Kalamazoo College’s name, logos, avatars and other visual identifiers may not be used on personal accounts. The phrase Kalamazoo College and the College’s logos are registered trademarks.
  • Student organizations may not use “Kalamazoo College” at the beginning of the group or page name. This practice is to avoid confusion between student groups and College departments and offices. “Group-name at Kalamazoo College” is acceptable. When identifying the College in the group or page name, the full name, Kalamazoo College must be used.

Applicable Guidelines and Policies

Each post on a College social media site is representative of the College. Publication and commentary on social media carry the same obligations as any other kind of publication or commentary at K. Users must comply with:

  • The brand standards detailed in the College’s Brand K Identity Manual.
  • The employee standards outlined in the Kalamazoo College Employee Handbook and the Kalamazoo College Faculty Handbook, specifically those related directly to the competence, performance and conduct of employees. Student workers are also held to the standards of the Employee Handbook.
  • All local, state and federal laws, including but not limited to: the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Federal Trade Commission Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), U.S. copyright law and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
  • The Kalamazoo College Information Services General Computing and Network Use Policies.
  • All policies and Terms of Service of the social media platform.

In addition, because social media users are engaging in public relations work, all users of Kalamazoo College accounts must post content in a manner that is compliant with the Public Relations Society of America’s code of ethics. Content must be honest, accurate and complete. Users must avoid actions and circumstances that create a conflict between personal and professional interests, and promptly disclose any existing or potential conflict of interest.

The College reserves the right to delete postings or block users that it deems to be slanderous, unlawful, obscene, hateful, soliciting, threatening, abusive, harassing or an infringement of another’s rights, including but not limited to intellectual property, privacy or publicity rights. K also may remove from discussion threads any comments that are off topic or repetitive messages from a single source.

Operating a Kalamazoo College Social Media Account

Before Posting

  • Review the social media account security settings to ensure they align with your communication goals for that particular social media platform, and adjust as needed (e.g. are you trying to create a private group or one that is open to all).
  • Consider how a post may be interpreted and by whom before posting any content.
  • To correct an error on a post made by a user of the College account, acknowledge the error and provide the correct information. Do not delete the original post without acknowledging the deletion.
  • Posting photos of persons in spaces or at events to which the College allows public access is appropriate.
  • The College may post photos of students when appropriate. Photographs and images of students are considered Directory Information at Kalamazoo College. The College may release Directory Information without consent of students; however, careful consideration is given to all releases to ensure information is not shared indiscriminately.  Kalamazoo College’s full definition of Directory Information is found in the Student Records section of the Academic Catalog.
  • Do not engage with social media accounts whose posts and pages do not comply with the College’s Honor System.
  • If another user from the social media platform posts offensive content on a K site, prior to deleting posts or blocking users, take a screenshot of the offending posts.
  • If you see postings related to K indicating an individual may be a danger to self or others, notify the appropriate campus authority and take a screen shot.
  • During a College emergency (such as but not limited to a student death, fire, damage to campus caused by extreme weather), do not create your own messages about the emergency without consulting with the Office of College Marketing and Communication. During a College emergency users may repost from the main Kalamazoo College social media sites – i.e. @kcollege on Twitter, Kalamazoo College on Facebook. Users may also refer their audience to the official pages. Remember to change any pre-scheduled postings to manual operations during a College emergency to preclude inadvertent posting of information that, given the emergency, is inappropriate or no longer valid.
  • Check accounts often and respond to direct messages and tweets in a timely manner. Managers of accounts left unattended for 30 days or more will be contacted by the BCT to determine if the account is still viable or should be closed.
  • Faculty and/or staff must supervise student access to College accounts and ensure content and use adheres to the Social Media Policies.
  • The BCT will, upon request and on occasion, monitor accounts to ensure compliance with this policy.

Responsibilities for Employees with Personal Accounts

Kalamazoo College values employees’ rights to speak freely on their personal social media accounts. Keeping personal accounts completely separate from institutional accounts is challenging, therefore the following guidelines apply to employees posting on official Kalamazoo College accounts AND personal accounts.

Do not use the College’s name or nicknames in your social media account name if you intend for your account to be personal.

Employees may list their place of employment on their social media accounts, but may not place Kalamazoo College logos/marks/identifiers on their personal accounts without permission. Permission may include an invitation to share a logo or mark as part of a promotion. Some platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, will automatically display a Kalamazoo College mark if you identify K as your employer; this linkage is acceptable.

Nothing in this policy restricts employees’ ability to engage in protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act.

Modification of Social Media Policies

Users who have questions or suggestions about the social media policy should contact the Office of College Marketing and Communication at BrandK@kzoo.edu. This social media policy will be reviewed on a regular basis and updated as needed. Notice of revisions will be shared on Hornet Hive.

Revised March 13, 2018

Addendum One: Conducting College Business on Social Media

Adopted March 13, 2018

Addendum One to the Kalamazoo College Social Media Policy describes and defines additional standards for persons managing and posting to College social media accounts. No College business should be conducted–events announced, programs publicized, and the like–on sites other than official College social media accounts (as defined on page one of the Kalamazoo College Social Media Policy). The presence of posts from official College sites can cause confusion on the part of users about whether they are interacting with an official College outlet or site.

Changing federal and other regulations, often stemming from shifting societal expectations, require institutions of higher education to actively respond to instances where abusive or discriminatory behavior occurs. For example, colleges are expected to respond effectively to incidents of sexual harassment that the institutions had knowledge of, or “should have” known about. The following information will help clarify the role of College employees in noting and responding to such behavior.

Responsibilities Regarding Unofficial Social Media Accounts

Employees engaged with social media on accounts other than official College Social Media Accounts may have some responsibilities due to their status as College employees. An example of such a site would be a student-initiated and managed site where users share information and opinion. Specifically, if a College-related issue or information arises on such a site, employees may have a responsibility to pass the information along.

If employees observe language or behavior on unofficial sites where College issues arise, there is an obligation to report conduct that a reasonable person would find abusive, threatening, intimidating, or harassing. To be clear, there is no expectation that employees actively monitor unofficial sites.  Rather, employees who observe abusive, threatening, intimidating, or harassing behavior related to a member of the K community, need to report such observations to the College for follow up. The College has a legal responsibility to respond to such behaviors that it knows or should have known about, and employee knowledge may constitute College knowledge. More importantly, the College has an ethical responsibility to intervene in situations where abusive, threatening, intimidating, or harassing behavior is occurring.

While standards for assessing whether something is abusive, threatening, intimidating, or harassing behavior vary, the “reasonable person” standard is a good guideline. A “reasonable person” is a hypothetical one who has average or ordinary reason, judgment, care, and intelligence. A simple question may help:

Does anything you read or observe on an unofficial site where College issues arise–as a reasonable person with average reason, judgment, care, and intelligence–cause you any concern?

If the answer is “yes,” “maybe,” or “I don’t know,” take a screen shot (http://www.take-a-screenshot.org/) of the questionable material and report the incident.  If the issue pertains to an employee, please notify the Director of Human Resources. If the issue involves a student, please notify the Dean of Students.

Once a report is received, a process of fact-finding will start. The goal of fact-finding is to better understand the context and content of the reported posting to determine whether it warrants a College response.