This blog is both acceptable and unacceptable
The University contacted students on Wednesday to inform them of the university’s policy on the use of social networking sites, such as blogs, microblogs such as Twitter and forums such as Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and so on. The link to the policy given was http://campus.leeds.ac.uk/isms/guidelines/social_networking.html, and the text there indicates that “Social networking sites must not be used as a platform for airing dissatisfaction or criticism of the University, its staff, students or facilities.”
(UPDATE: please note that as of this morning, shortly after this information was posted, the above link has been removed by the University. We will keep checking the placement and wording of the policy online)
Certainly, the UCU agrees that staff and students should be protected from online abuse, and that we all have the right to a dignified online existence, free from harassment or misrepresentation.
However, the prohibition on airing dissatisfaction or criticism of the University or its facilities is clearly unacceptable, and Facebook has lit up with student outrage in recent days. This prohibition directly contradicts the university protocol on freedom of speech which is explicitly endorsed by both the University Council and LUU. The two protocols cannot exist side by side, and our writing so here is both acceptable (under the protocol on freedom of speech) and unacceptable (under the policy on the use of social networking).
Unsurprisingly, this policy has not been negotiated with the UCU.
As the UCU at Leeds use Facebook, Twitter and blogging with open and free comments, we have sought a clarification on whether the University, with this policy, intends to close down our online activities. We have yet to receive a reply.
(UPDATE 2: It is understood the policy may have been published prematurely, and has been taken down so that it can go through the appropriate consultation procedures. At ease.)