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Volunteer Media Policy

The Ohio University Alumni Association’s (OUAA) role is to advise and assist chapters and societies in providing timely, relevant, and appropriate content to alumni. As part of this effort, the OUAA encourages our volunteers, chapters, and societies to engage with alumni through appropriate media, digital, and social channels. Such channels include but are not limited to websites, emails, and social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  

As an OUAA volunteer, you are a representative of the Alumni Association. Accordingly, the OUAA has developed the following policies and guidelines in order to assist individuals who are representing a chapter or society via media, online, or digital channels, as well as to protect the reputation and brand of the OUAA.  

Policies for Media Activity

News Media Activity and Interactions: If contacted by the news media, do not respond on behalf of the University or the OUAA or as if you are a spokesperson for the University or the OUAA. Questions from news media that require an institutional response and relate to a University policy, position, or stance should be forwarded to the OUAA. The OUAA will then work with University Communications and Marketing (UCM) and/or Advancement Communications and Marketing (ACM) to determine who would be the most appropriate and effective spokesperson and to frame the response in a manner that avoids disruption of University activities and protects student privacy.

If volunteers choose to speak to the news media on issues relating to the University, the OUAA, or higher education in general, they should make it clear that they are stating their personal views and are not expressing the formal position of the University or the OUAA.

For more information about Ohio University policies regarding news media activity and external communications, please see University Policy 31.001 on External Communications.

Social Media Account Administrative Status : Both society or chapter leadership and the OUAA should have usernames and passwords and/or administrative (“admin”) access to chapter and society social media accounts. More than one volunteer should have access to accounts, and chapter or society leadership should review admin access on social media accounts quarterly to ensure that information remains current. During times of transition among chapter and society leadership, the OUAA is available to help moderate social media activity.

The social media accounts you establish on behalf of the OUAA are property of Ohio University. If you forfeit your volunteer duties, please take steps to relinquish admin rights to your liaison at the OUAA.

Include your chapter or society’s OUAA liaison on all group print and electronic communications, including social media posts, emails, listservs, invitations, newsletters, and similar communications.

Before you exercise admin rights on any social media platform, read the “Terms of Service” agreement.

Identification : In the bio or “About” section of any chapter or society social media page, identify who you are and your relationship to the University and the OUAA. Always be transparent and disclose relationships. If you post on your personal profile and mention the university, the OUAA, or your chapter or society, be sure to mention your volunteer status.

Personal or Organizational Accounts: Several guidelines apply if you are participating in or running a social media account for yourself or an organization (such as an OUAA chapter or society, or a student organization) that may reference Ohio University.

Do not post on behalf of the University or the OUAA or represent yourself as a spokesperson for the University or the OUAA. If volunteers choose to post about issues relating to the University, the OUAA, or higher education in general, they should make it clear that they are stating their personal views and are not expressing the formal position of the University or the OUAA. Use a disclaimer such as: “The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of Ohio University or the Ohio University Alumni Association.” If needed, refer questions or requests for comments to the OUAA.

Use good judgment regarding content. Do not relay confidential information or information about a University employee, student, or faculty member. Remember, you may be held personally responsible for such content.

Do not use the University logo on a personal website. Respect the University brand, trademark, copyright, etc. 
For more information, please see University Policy 15.015 on Copyright, University Policy 91.003 on Computer and Network Use, University Policy 31.010 on Publication of Periodicals Distributed to Off-Campus Audiences, and Policy 31.001 on External Communications.
Forbidden Activities : Because the OUAA is associated with a public body, OUAA volunteers are not allowed to block someone from posting in a volunteer-hosted public forum unless that person violates a stated rule of posting in the forum.

Inappropriate use of social networks, which includes engaging in personal attacks, utilizing derogatory or profane language and/or off-color or sexual humor, sharing incriminating photos, or violating copyright rules and regulations is prohibited. Such material is subject to removal by OUAA.

Do not violate University codes of conduct or engage in any illegal activity.

Do not use University or OUAA resources (including social media accounts) for private financial gain or compensation.

Do not use University or OUAA resources (including social media accounts) to intimidate or single out individuals or groups for degradation or harassment in violation of federal or state law and other University policies.

Information Sharing : Do not post confidential or proprietary information about Ohio University, the OUAA, students, employees, or alumni. OUAA volunteers must abide by applicable federal requirements and laws, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as well as NCAA regulations. Distribution of confidential information may result in loss of admin privileges or termination.

Banning Users: Any social media user who directs profanity or hateful language toward the University or any individual on an OUAA social media page may be banned from the page indefinitely. Reinstatement of privileges is at the discretion of the OUAA.

Copyright and Compliance : Be mindful of the copyright and intellectual property rights of others and of Ohio University. Follow copyright and compliance laws and guidelines when applicable, and do not use copyrighted images, text, or software without permission or in violation of the copyright laws of the United States. It is acceptable to use the Facebook sharing or Twitter retweet functions to share content.

Do not violate terms of applicable software licensing agreements.

All alumni of Ohio University are, by National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) definition, representatives of Ohio University’s Athletics interests. Inappropriate actions on the part of alumni can jeopardize the eligibility of a student-athlete or prospect and/or can jeopardize the compliance of the University with Mid-American Conference and NCAA regulations. For more information, please see the Ohio Athletics Compliance Office’s “ NCAA Guidelines for OHIO Fans, Friends, and Alumni.”

Endorsement : Do not use the Ohio University or the OUAA name, imagery, or logos for commercial endorsements, product or cause promotion, or in affiliation with a political party or candidate, political cause, or religion.

Advertising : Most social networks have rules and regulations regarding advertising. Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission has specific guidelines regarding disclosure of ads in social updates. Please abide by all applicable rules and regulations.

Relevant Volunteer Standards and Expectations

Ohio University Alumni Association volunteers agree to:

  • Promote a positive image of Ohio University and the Alumni Association
  • Act with honesty, integrity, and respect toward all individuals in person and electronically
  • Refrain from discriminating against any individual or group on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability, or national origin
  • Conduct themselves in a safe manner to ensure the safety and wellbeing of others
  • Refrain from engaging in any type of harassment, verbal or physical, toward any individual or group
  • Enhance the relationship among alumni, students, parents, and the university
  • Report to and work with the OUAA in a timely and effective manner
  • Refrain from collecting dues or soliciting or collecting donations without the prior consent of the Office of Alumni Relations.

Social Media Best Practices and Guidelines

Always think twice before you post. Privacy does not exist in the world of social media: search engines can turn up posts years after they are created, and comments can be forwarded or copied. As a general rule, if you would not say something at a professional conference, to a member of the media, or to your mother, consider whether you should post it online.

Use common sense. Avoid profanity, sexual humor, ethnic slurs, and other questionable content.

Respect differences and refrain from posting updates related to politics, religion, and other sensitive topics. The OUAA respects and encourages different viewpoints and opinions, but those should be reserved for your personal social media accounts, outlets, and conversations. Because the OUAA is a 501(c)(3) organization, our employees, volunteers, chapters, and societies cannot be perceived as taking a stance on any political issue or candidate. Failure to abide by this guideline could jeopardize the OUAA’s tax-exempt status.

Remember your audience. Be aware that a presence in the social media world is or easily can be made available to the public at large. This includes prospective students, current students, current employers and colleagues, and peers. Consider this before publishing to ensure that a post will not alienate, harm, or provoke any of these groups. Avoid topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory, such as politics or religion.

Be respectful. Understand that content contributed to a social media site could encourage comments or discussion of opposing ideas. In your reply, choose your words carefully. Do not engage in a war of words. Reply to comments in a timely manner when a response is appropriate; however, if you’re distracted and cannot focus on the information, wait. Also, always be honest, authentic, professional, and polite.

Do not delete Ohio University-related posts or comments unless the content is hateful. You may not agree with another’s words, but you should honor his or her right to share. However, if the content posted to your page offers little or no value, you may decide to hide or delete the content because it might distract or confuse the audience.

Strive for accuracy. Always get the facts straight before posting them on social media. Review content for grammatical and spelling errors. Do not work with rumors.

Develop a plan. Before you get started using social media, take some time to figure out what you’re going to say, and when. Curate content sources, such as The Post, WOUB, The Athens News, Compass, Ohio Athletics, etc. Link to an official Ohio University or OUAA page when possible. Also, try to post regularly: aiming for 3-5 posts a week is a good benchmark.

Do not spam.

Consider relevancy. Do not post anything that is not relevant to alumni, the University, the OUAA, or the chapter or society.

Share! Chapter and society leadership are encouraged to share University, OUAA, chapter and society updates on their personal pages.  

If you have questions about online activity or how best to comply with these standards, please contact your OUAA liaison.