YUSU is set to look at guidelines surrounding the use of social media in response to several incidents this year.
There are currently no rules or guidelines regarding what Officers or societies can and cannot write on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter.
The issue has arisen following racist comments on the rugby team’s official Twitter account at the end of last term; and the resignation of Lawrence Binitie, the Racial and Equality Officer, over alleged anti-Semitic remarks during a private Facebook conversation last month.
Basim Al-Ahmadi, now the sole Racial and Equality Officer, commented that: “You have to uphold certain standards of decency regardless of whether you are a YUSU Officer or not. If you are going to say something on Facebook it should stay there.
“The line between public and private is a very grey area, particularly when it comes to social media
YUSU women’s officer – Nell Beecham
“[But] it is worrying when a private conversation goes public. When is someone allowed to make it public? Even if it goes to the complaints commission it should still stay private.”
Confusion has especially been centred on Part-time Officers and how they can use their personal social media pages; however, issues of accountability have also been raised.
Al-Ahmadi continued that in regards to the rugby incident: “Whether it was the club or individuals who were responsible, there needs to be a contract with clubs and societies on how to use Facebook and social media. If it is only one of two people who are allowed the password then they are the ones you can be held accountable.”
Nell Beecham, YUSU Women’s Officer, commented: “We’re currently facing problems that a previous generation would not have had to consider. The line between public and private is a very grey area, particularly when it comes to social media.
“It’s a dangerous issue as has already been shown, and one that could have profound impact not only for officers whilst in their university position, but one that could map their career and restrict later options.”
Tim Ellis, YUSU President, stated: “Currently we do not have any formal advice for officers regarding the use of social media. This is an issue we are currently looking into with a view to establishing a clear set of guidelines for all officers. However, officers are reminded that as elected representatives they are accountable for their words in any public forum both online and offline.”
This issue was brought up at the Welfare and Liberation Assembly two weeks ago.