Months after Professor David Guth’s tweets wishing death for the children of NRA members led to his suspension,  the University of Kansas Board of Regents adopts a new policy defining punishments for “improper use of social media”.

Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed has the details:

In September, the University of Kansas suspended David W. Guth, a tenured journalism professor, after he responded to the shootings at the Washington Navy Yard with this comment on Twitter:  “#NavyYardShooting The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters. Shame on you. May God damn you.”

Many pro-gun politicians called for Guth to be fired, but he kept his job and the suspension has since been lifted. Officials also learned that the state’s public universities didn’t have a policy that explicitly permitted the dismissal of faculty members and other employees over their use of social media.

On Wednesday, the Kansas Board of Regents changed that, and adopted rules under which faculty members and other employees can be fired for “improper use of social media” — and some parts of the policy are already drawing harsh criticism from faculty leaders.

The policy outlines a number of reasons why any employee could be dismissed over social media postings. Some reasons — such as inciting violence or revealing confidential student information — aren’t causing alarm. But others, faculty advocates say, could severely limit faculty free speech.

For example, one definition of improper use is communication that “when made pursuant to (i.e. in furtherance of) the employee’s official duties, is contrary to the best interest of the university.” Another is communication that “impairs discipline by superiors or harmony 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 university, or otherwise adversely affects the university’s ability to efficiently provide services.”

Further, the policy says that, in evaluating social media use that may be improper, the university chief executive should “balance the interest of the university in promoting the efficiency of the public services it performs through its employees against the employee’s right as a citizen to speak on matters of public concern, and may consider the employee’s position within the university and 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. The chief executive officer may also consider whether the communication was made during the employee’s working hours or the communication was transmitted utilizing university systems or equipment.”