Higher education Baptist school, Louisiana College adopted a new social media policy this summer that requires specific students to grant the school access to their social media accounts. The policy also states that all students are responsible for reporting any questionable or inappropriate material posted by other students.
In the newly revised 2019/2020 Louisiana College Handbook under “Violations of the Code of Student Conduct,” there is a lengthy 2,000-word policy on the use of social media. Subsection F states the purpose of the social media conduct policy as follows: “The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance for the appropriate use of social media by Louisiana College employees and students of record…”
Accompanied by a long list of “guidelines” on how students and staff are supposed to properly use their social media accounts are the following two statements:
Louisiana College President, Rick Brewer says the policy is the school’s way of protecting the students as well as the school. “We particularly want to protect students from being numbered among those who either lose a job or never are interviewed because of unfortunate or inappropriate content on their social media platforms.”
Brewer continues, “Above all, we want to educate the whole student in the maturity of intellect and maturity of character. And I believe our social media policy is appropriately motivated in such regards.”
Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Louisiana College, Russell Meek shares a completely different perspective on why the college is implementing such a controlling policy. He says that the social media policy “is part of a pattern of behavior that seeks to keep people from speaking freely about what is happening at the college.”
He further explains that “there is something deeply off when a person or institution goes to such great lengths to silence criticism.”
Meek ultimately decided to resign from teaching at the college due to sexist comments made by one of the school’s deans during a sermon. Meek filed a complaint with the school but no action was taken. In fact, the school dismissed Meek’s efforts because he was “already disgruntled about other leadership decisions and pursued this issue in an attempt to malign the leadership of Louisiana College.”
There appear to be two competing views at stake in regard to what’s more important in Christian higher education. The freedom of expression or the reputation of an institution? It would come as no surprise to see the latter take precedence over the former.