Willamette University encourages students, employees, parents, alumni, prospective students and community members to use social media to enhance learning, facilitate discussion, communicate news and build community.
The Social Media Advisory Committee met during the 2016–17 academic year to formulate the university’s social media guidelines. Based upon current university policies governing behavior, copyright, confidentiality, etc., these guidelines are a working document that will change as social media evolve.
Community members who produce content for, comment on and manage social media affiliated with Willamette are asked to follow these guidelines.
If you’re starting a new social media account affiliated with Willamette, contact the university’s staff. We’re happy to help you evaluate which social media best fit your needs.
New Snapchat Accounts
If you are interested in starting a Snapchat account, please contact Tom Mayhall Rastrelli, director of digital communications, about the possibility of contributing to Willamette University’s main Snapchat account by way of takeover days before starting your own account.
New Student Organization Accounts
See the Student Organization Handbook for instructions.
New Departmental or Office Accounts
See the best practices and conditions for Willamette’s Social Media Directory.
Whether you’re making comments or moderating them, these guidelines are meant to assist you.
- Willamette University supports freedom of speech and dialogue. Social media administrators should moderate comments lightly to provide room for conversation.
- Willamette University does not endorse all comments that appear on its institutional social media and directory-approved accounts and pages.
If commenters threaten harm to anyone including themselves, users and administrators should immediately call Campus Safety at 503-370-6911 (24 hours per day).
Take a screenshot of the inappropriate content. Email it and any pertinent information describing the situation to the director of digital communications.
Administrators are page curators. They give life and personality to an account. They keep posts and comments upbeat, inquisitive, helpful and interactive. They put Willamette’s best face forward.
Engage your followers.
- Affirm followers.
- Like their comments.
- Thank users who share photos, links, etc.
Be positive and helpful.
- When replying to questions, identify yourself and your role, so commenters know who the person behind the account is.
- Refer commenters with questions to the appropriate person, department or organization.
Don’t delete negative comments, unless they fall into the categories defining “offensive and inappropriate comments” below.
- When appropriate, send commenters a private message to discuss a critical comment.
- If commenters are not friendly to dialog, wish them well and move on. If they persist, you may chose to block them from posting.
Write in the voice of your office, department or organization.
- Save your opinions for your personal social media accounts.
For post ideas, follow other Willamette accounts and other schools.
- Search online for the best college social media posts. See what's trending.
- Look at what works for accounts with audiences similar to yours.
- Experiment and then watch your metrics to see which types of posts generate the most interaction.
Directory-approved accounts will not post material that includes and will remove comments that include:
- Abusive, derogatory, profane, obscene or similarly objectionable language.
- Copyrighted material.
- Spam, including deliberate repetition of comments.
- Personal attacks, threats and insults.
- Harassment, discrimination and bullying of any form.
- For-profit promotions, business ads and commercial transactions.
- Misinformation and potentially libelous statements.
- Violations of confidentiality and privacy.
- Links leading to material in the aforementioned categories.
- Anonymous comments and reviews, or those posted with fake names, that fall into the aforementioned categories.
Users committing comment violations, especially repeated violations, may be blocked from the university’s social media. University students, faculty and staff may be subject to discipline according to university conduct policies.
Outside Business Hours
Around the clock moderation of university-affiliated social media accounts is not possible. Administrators may not see inappropriate comments right away.
- Users who see inappropriate material are discouraged from engaging those posting questionable material.
- In an emergency situation, contact Campus Safety at 503-370-6911 (24 hours per day).
General rules for copyright
Unless you have explicit, written permission from the copyright holder:
- Do not use copyrighted images, videos, music or text outside of the classroom.
- Do not use copyrighted material on the university’s website, including on the calendar and in the Bearcat Bulletin.
- Do not use copyrighted material on social media.
- Providing attribution or credit to a source is not a substitute for obtaining permission.
If you are using copyrighted material and plan to claim fair use, consider the following:
- You may use copyrighted materials only for educational purposes, within the walls of a classroom.
- You may use copyrighted materials for a limited and transformative purpose, such as commentary, criticism and parody.
- If you are sharing or storing copyrighted materials online for classroom, the materials must be hosted on the university’s website behind the login, such as on WISE.
- Once you leave the confines of the classroom or the password-protected sections of the website, you have a more difficult time claiming fair use.
- More information on fair use
- More information on filesharing
You may use images, texts and recordings in a public forum if the copyright of the material has expired. You are responsible for doing the appropriate research to confirm material is in public domain. Here are a few resources:
- Creative Commons
- The Stocks
- YouTube Audio Library (music and sound effects)
- Internet Archive
- Free Music Archive
University policies related to copyright
When posting on social media and the university’s website, Willamette students and employees will observe the university’s policies concerning copyright and intellectual property.
- Intellectual Property Rights Policy
- Copyright policies
- Willamette University Website IP Infringement Policy
Contact University Communications if you are unable to determine whether you have permission to use something.
When posting on social media, be respectful of people’s personal boundaries and privacy. Ask people permission before posting their private information, photos and videos.
Students’ educational records — FERPA
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of students’ educational records.
When posting on social media, it is your responsibility to adhere to the university’s Education Records Policy and FERPA.
- The Office of the Registrar has resources to assist employees with this task.
- A good starting point is “FERPA: What faculty and staff members need to know.”
Guidelines for photographers, videographers and social media content-producers
When covering university events, photographers, videographers and social media content-producers must make a good faith effort to identify themselves and the fact they are recording the event.
- Wear an official Willamette University name tag.
- If possible, introduce yourself to the crowd at the start of the event.
- If possible, personally introduce yourself to individuals after taking photos. This can be done when asking for someone’s name to put in a caption.
If someone asks not to be recorded or photographed
- Kindly, inform them of the signage that said the event was being recorded.
- If they do not want their photo used, delete it.