Rhodes College is a place that aspires to graduate students with a life-long passion for learning, a compassion for others, and the ability to translate academic study and personal concern into effective leadership and action in their communities and the world. We seek to engage a talented and diverse student body in a challenging, inclusive, and culturally broadening college experience that values and promotes academic freedom.
Further, we seek to ensure that our faculty and staff have the talent, the time, and the resources to inspire and involve our students in meaningful study, research, and service. Daily, we learn new perspectives from each other in pursuit of those paths. Social media platforms have become a tool for many of us to use to reach those ends. There are many examples of faculty, students and staff using social media to promote ideas and activities that enrich our lives as well as inform this community, our alumni and friends. We also know from experience that social media, used without care, can communicate in ways that are contrary to our values and diminish us individually and as a community. Improper use of social media can also pose risks to the College’s confidential and proprietary information, reputation and brand, expose the College to discrimination and harassment claims, and jeopardize the College’s compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
The following social media policy and best practice recommendations are intended to provide guidance for the Rhodes community. This document is organized in three sections regarding social media at Rhodes College: Social Media Policy, Guidelines for All Rhodes Social Media Sites, and Best Practices and Engagement for Social Media. The policy section has been developed in cooperation with the Rhodes faculty and administration. Sections related to Guidelines and Best Practices are maintained and recommended by the Office of Communications.
Questions and concerns about this statement should be directed to the Director of Communications or to the President's Staff member for your area.
Social Media Policy
Social media at Rhodes extends existing communication efforts to raise the profile and manage the reputation of the College. “Social media” as referenced in this policy refers to any website, platform or application that allows users to create and share content or participate in digital social networking. Participating in social media sites on behalf of Rhodes College is not a right, but a privilege and should be taken seriously and with respect to the broader community. Social media platforms develop and change at a rapid pace, and the policy may be revised from time to time as new platforms are developed and new concerns are identified. The lack of explicit reference to a specific site does not limit the extent of the application of this policy and all persons subject to these social media policies should consult periodically the most current version available in the College Handbook found express.rhodes.edu.
This Social Media Policy applies to all employees, student workers and contractors who are using or maintaining College social media platforms, and at any time the individual can be reasonably understood as officially representing Rhodes College. It will therefore impact students, faculty, and staff who utilize various social media for communication while representing the College. It does not apply to student, staff or faculty personal accounts. Social media accounts of individual faculty, staff, and students, as well as groups in which they are members that are not identified as affiliated with or representing Rhodes College, are considered “personal,” even if the individuals or group members are identified as members of the Rhodes College community. However, when faculty, staff, or students speak or act as private persons via these accounts, they must not create the impression that they are speaking or acting for or on behalf of or as a representative of Rhodes.
All of Rhodes College’s other policies that may apply to the use of social media remain in full force and effect. Social media should never be used in a way that violates any other Rhodes College policies or obligations placed upon employees, contractors or students. If any social media activity would violate Rhodes College policy in another forum, such activity also violates such policy in an online forum. Persons subject to these social media policies are expressly prohibited from using social media in any way to:
- Violate the Rhodes College Handbook or, as applicable, the Rhodes College Student Handbook, including but not limited to the Rhodes College Title IX Policy, Diversity Policy, Policy on Discrimination and Harassment, Sex/Gender Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy, Administrative Policy, Communications Policy, Information Services Policy, and Safety and Security Policy contained therein.
- Violate any obligation, policy or requirement of Rhodes College concerning privacy or confidentiality in any manner or form.
- Post, or express a viewpoint on another’s post, that targets an individual or group, or that engages in racial or ethnic slurs, sexist or discriminatory comments, gratuitous profanity, and abusive language.
- Infringe upon the intellectual property rights of others, or make improper uses of the trademarks “Rhodes” and “Rhodes College,” both of which are federally-registered trademarks and the property of Rhodes College.
- Circulate or post commercial, personal, religious or political solicitations, chain letters, spam or promotion of outside organizations unrelated to the business of Rhodes College.
- Violate any other federal or state laws or ethical standards (for example, using social media in a false or misleading way, such as by claiming to be someone other than yourself).
The ability to use Rhodes’ social media sites may be revoked if misused or abused. Any violation of any of the above policies may also subject the user to appropriate discipline.
Academic Freedom and Community Expectations
When officers of instruction speak or write as citizens or as members of a learned profession, including on social media platforms, they shall be free of institutional restraints. Thus, these policies and procedures are not intended to infringe upon the academic freedom of the faculty and will not be applied to content or discussions that are shared or posted via social media when such content is drawn from professors’ professional activity and related outreach/activism. In some instances, faculty may identify themselves as Rhodes Faculty, but at the same time have the obligation to state that they are not speaking for the College. The public statements of officers of instruction should be accurate and should show restraint and respect for the opinions of others.
Communication and activity of faculty on social media when they are clearly representing the College is expected to meet the same standards as behavior in other professional contexts. As colleagues, professors have obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. Professors do not discriminate against or harass others. They respect and defend free inquiry. In the exchange of criticism and ideas professors show due respect for the opinions of others. Professors acknowledge academic sources and strive to be objective in their professional judgment of colleagues.
If a Rhodes College faculty member believes that the exercise of these policies has infringed upon their academic freedom, the faculty member is encouraged to contact the Department Chair or the Vice President of Academic Affairs. If necessary, the President has the authority to make the final decision of whether an exercise of these policies should be reversed to preserve academic freedom.
Visual Identity System
The Visual Identity System used by the Office of Communications applies to all social media sites representing the College. Each social media site influences how constituents perceive Rhodes, so they should be consistent and distinct, using language, imagery, colors, typography and the College logo and seal to reflect the high standards of the Rhodes Vision. All efforts should be taken to protect and enhance the value of the Rhodes brand. Derogatory comments about students, faculty or employees, or other Colleges or companies should not be posted to College social media sites. Confidential information should not be shared on any social media sites.
All other Rhodes policies apply including, but not limited to, policies regarding usage of the Internet referenced in the Information Services section of the College Handbook. Content that infringes on the copyrights or intellectual property rights of others is considered inappropriate. Situations involving students should not be discussed in compliance with HIPAA and FERPA.
No Expectation of Privacy
All contents of Rhodes College’s information technology resources and communications systems are the property of Rhodes College. Therefore, persons subject to these social media policies should have no expectation of privacy whatsoever in any message, files, data, document, facsimile, telephone conversation, social media post, conversation or message, or any other kind of information or communications transmitted to, received or printed from, or stored or recorded on Rhodes College’s electronic information and communications systems. As noted above, the Rhodes College Handbook, including all policies concerning use of Information Services, apply to the use of social media, and users are encouraged to consult the Rhodes College Handbook for further information.