Florida State University

Elisha Bender, Jeff Gardner, Joe O’Geen, &
Chad Mandala
Florida State University
“Saying young people have become reliant on
social media is kind of like saying young
people have become reliant on
communicating with peers, being inquisitive,
forming communities and experimenting.
Young people have always done those things,
and social media is just the latest in a long
tradition of technological advances that young
people have embraced.”
- Association for Social Media & Higher
Benefits of Social Media
• Students value social media, in fact 74% of students think
that schools should have a presence on social media sites
(Noel, Levitz, 2010).
• Social media can be used to create dynamic, relevant
communities (Munoz, Strotmeyer, 2010).
– Students report higher levels of interaction with faculty
members and greater comfort communicating with
others (Junco, Mastrodicasa, 2007).
• Social media makes it easy to reconnect with alumni
– Florida State University used social media successfully in
its online fundraising campaign The Great Give (FSU,
Benefits Continued
• Students engaged in social media sites are more engaged in
campus organizations (Heiberger & Harper, 2008).
• Using social media is a free, easy way to publicize campus
events (Rueben)
• Using Twitter in educationally relevant ways in a first-year
seminar course increased student engagement and
improved grades (Junco, Heiberger & Loken, 2011).
• Social media can be used for an admissions office to connect
with prospective students
Challenges of Social Media
• It is difficult to assess the effectiveness of social media
marketing strategies (Munoz, Strotmeyer, 2010).
• Implementing the right social media strategy for your
campus can be challenging, as it is important to consider the
needs of the student population (Munoz, Strotmeyer, 2010).
• If the university does not have adequate moderation, social
media does not give administrators as much control over
messages that are being delivered.
• Maintaining a sufficient social media presence requires a
significant time commitment
• Building a consistent brand can be difficult (Jadu, 2010).
• Nonverbal communication is limited (Junco & Chickering,
First Amendment Issues
• Middle University is a private institution
– Bound by the standards of contract law
• We must uphold the promises and guarantees made
to students via brochures, handbooks, and advertising
• Can restrict what individuals say in university
controlled media and forums
• We intend to have the social media “home
base” moderated by an administrator
• Moderating allows people to submit comments and
viewpoints, while we are able to institutionally control
content seen by the public.
Know Your Rights & Obligations
• First Amendment Rights
– As a citizen of the United States, the right to free speech is a
protected constitutional right
– However, protection of free speech excludes “fighting words,
true threats, incitement, obscenity, and defamation” (Fossey,
Melear, & Beckham, 2011, p.290).
• Conversely as a students and faculty of Middle University, it is
your obligation to uphold the student code of conduct
– “Student conduct codes are guidelines set forth by colleges
and universities in an effort to maintain a safe, yet
productive, campus environment” (Beckstrom, 2008, p. 271)
• Be aware of your rights, but remember that you are also
representing Middle University
Things to Consider
• MU’s Federal District Court’s decisions on private school
limitations on free speech
– We are legally obligated to uphold the rulings of our Federal District
Courts; however, we should look to the decisions of other Federal
District Courts for guidance on issues our specific district may have yet
to address via case law.
• State specific legislation that governs MU as a private school
– We must be cognizant of the impacts of state specific laws
• Such as California’s “Leonard Law” which states institutions of higher education
must afford students their First Amendment rights regardless of institutional type
• Ensuring imposed restrictions are content neutral
– Our restrictions should focus on the time, place, and manner of speech, not on the
content of the speech itself.
Civility Concerns
• Civility Issues:
– A number of studies have found students are coming to college
from environments that are increasingly uncivil
– Electronic forums have provided new outlets for constant
contact with individuals
– Adults are fostering these uncivil environments through their
Social Media as a Limited Forum
• Social media endorsed by the university falls under the
classification of a limited forum:
• “Classrooms, libraries, lecture halls, theaters, laboratories, and even Internet
platforms are typically set aside on the public institution’s campus for educational
purposes, and judges consistently apply analysis associated with a non-public forum
to these settings” (Fossey, Melear, & Beckham, 2011, p.291).
• Additionally: “When the venue serves an additional purpose that is closely aligned
with its educational mission, the institution may properly assert that its primary use
is incompatible with extending free speech protections….” (Fossey, Melear, &
Beckham, 2011, p.291)
• A limited forum implies that particular speech within the forum is
held to a greater standard by the university and may be restricted
• It is also important to remember that as a private institution, a
greater emphasis is placed on limited forums and speech
• When utilizing social media outlets that are supported by Middle
University it is important to exercise a greater degree of care when
publishing content
What can we do?
Promote responsible use of social media
Encourage in person conflict mediation
Provide resources on healthy communication
Challenge students to be cognizant of how their behavior
impacts their community
At Middle University
• We will offer a Do’s and Don’ts guide to social
media to inform MU students of our
expectations of their behavior and provide
guidance on how to maximize their social
media experience
• Offices will have a social media presence as a
means of outreach and providing positive
social media role models for students
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of social
media, to help the President of Middle
University ensure students understand the
long-term risks of putting too much
information on the Internet
Please click to watch
There are many great ways that social media
is currently being used on college campuses.
This section of our presentation highlights
several institutions that also provide an
example of how social media would be
beneficial at Middle University.
Unleash the Possibilities
Engage Current & Prospective Students
Involve Faculty
Partner with Student Organizations
American University. (2012). AU social media club. Retrieved from
Beckstrom, D. C. (2008). Who’s looking at your facebook profile? the use of
student conduct codes to censor college students’ online speech. Williamette Law
Review, 45(2), 261.
Chickering, A. W., & Junco, R. (2010). Civil discourse in the age of social media.
About Campus. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com
Duke Alumni Association. (2010). Office hours. Retrieved from
Fossey, R., Melear, K. B., & J.C. Beckham (Eds.). (2011). Contemporary issues in
higher education law (2nd ed.). Dayton, Ohio: Education Law Association.
Heiberger, G. Harper, R. (2008). Have you facebooked Astin lately? Using
technology to increase student involvement. New Directions for Student Services,
2008(128), 19-35.
Ithaca College. (2012). myIthaca. Retrieved from https://my.ithaca.edu/
References Continued
Junco, R., Heibergert, G., & Loken, E. (2011). The effect of Twitter on college
student engagement and grades. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(2),
Lipka, S. (2009, May 1). Colleges using technology to recruit students try to hang
on to the conversation. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from
Munoz, F. M., & Strotmeyer, K. C. (2010). Demistifying social media. Journal of
Student Affairs Research and Practice, 47(1), 123-127.
Noel-Levitz, Inc. (2011). 2011 E-Expectations Report: The online expectations of
perspective college students and their parents. Retrieved from:
Rueben, R. (2008). The use of social media in higher education for marketing and
communications: A guide for professionals in higher education. Retrieved from:
University of Delaware. (2012). UD social media. Retrieved from
Yagelski, R. P., & Miller, R. K. (2010). The Informed Argument (8th ed., pp. 351-357).
Belmont, MA: Wadsworth. Retrieved February 15, 2012

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