Last week, the Kansas Board of Regents, a nine-member governing body that controls six state universities and some 30 community and technical colleges, voted unanimously to approve a new policy that gives each institution's "chief executive officer" discretion to discipline or terminate any faculty or staff member who uses social media "improperly." Many in the higher education world denounce this move as a sweeping attack on academic freedom, one prompted by a tenured journalism professor writing a single (admittedly awful) Tweet about the National Rifle Association.
This new policy will effectively scare every employee of a Kansas university off the Internet. But should we be surprised, given the increasing resemblance of every public university in the United States to a Fortune 500 corporation, that professors and university staff are now being held to the same standards as private employees? I mean, look at Justine Sacco, the world's least-knowledgeable AIDS commentator, or whatshisname from Duck Dynasty. If these two jackasses should lose their jobs for saying something so inflammatory, why shouldn't university professors? Well, in Kansas, it's not just about being inflammatory—now, university employees can get fired for saying just about anything.