Deciding when to respond to critics
As scholars at a major public research university, UO faculty publish in leading journals and with highly-regarded university presses. You also serve as expert sources in the media, on panels, and at events. Your research may find its way into other platforms quickly, which may attract significant attention on social media, other digital platforms, or in traditional news media. This attention can be a source of concern or frustration, particularly when faculty perceive that their research is under attack, misconstrued, or used for purposes for which it was never intended.
Responding to critics is at the discretion of individual faculty members; there is no obligation to do so. Here are several points to consider:
- If you believe your research has been mischaracterized and you are not sure the best way to ask for corrections or clarifications, reach out to your school or college communications team or the UO Media Relations team for guidance.
- The university expects and urges faculty to keep interactions respectful and on topic, using facts, evidence, reason, and data. It is best practice to NOT respond to ad hominem and personal attacks.
- Your exchanges (text, email, social media, etc.) may result in your words being broadcast on social media or other online outlets in unexpected ways and to audiences you did not intend to reach.
- It is important to distinguish between feedback that is critical of scholarship and communication that constitutes a threat, or targeted harassment. Threatening and harassing messages are often unsigned, signed with obviously fake or misleading names, or provide an email address but no specific identity.
The University encourages and applauds faculty who write for broader, non-academic audiences. Those faculty without experience writing for public audiences may find the following optional tips useful:
- Consider notifying your department head and dean that you intend to publish an op-ed. It is a much-appreciated professional courtesy to give them a heads up.
- Consider asking for assistance with crafting, editing, and placing an op-ed piece from communications specialists within your school or college. These experts may also provide other helpful strategies for responding to critical or aggressive audiences.
- Whether you are receiving assistance from communications specialists within your college or department or not, please consider informing UO Media Relations as a courtesy when an op-ed is forthcoming so their staff can be prepared to respond to media requests and provide guidance, as needed.
Managing a social media presence
Social media is perhaps one of the most powerful tools to elevate your profile and voice. And, by the same token, it can be one of the riskiest. One misstep on social media can have dramatic, unforeseen consequences.
If you identify yourself as a UO faculty member in a personal post, it is best practice to make clear that your views are your own and that you are not representing the university. You may want to include a disclaimer. Here is one example: “The views expressed on this [blog, Website, etc.] are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Oregon.” Additional social media guidelines are available from University Communications.
Handling media requests and interviews
If you are contacted by the media as part of your work at the university, the UO Media Relations team is available to provide support and counsel. If you choose, you may refer a journalist requesting information or an interview directly to our office and we will handle their inquiry. We offer media training, prep for interviews, and counsel on writing and placing opinion pieces. We can also track results of your contact with the media, such as newspaper and magazine mentions. Email Molly Blancett in UO Media Relations with any questions.
Engaging in political activity as a university employee
Government and Community Relations works closely with local, state, and federal elected officials. If you are interested in engaging with a federal official or inviting an official to an event, please contact the office at (541) 346-5381 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The quick card provides a summary of rules governing employee activity. Information about using UO resources for political activities and workplace campaigning is available from HR and the Office of the General Counsel.
The American Council on Education (ACE) provides guidance on the "do's" and "don'ts" of political campaign-related activities of and at colleges and universities.
Using the university's name or affiliation
Faculty shall avoid exploiting the university's name, brand, or their own relationship with the university for personal reasons unrelated to their legitimate academic or professional activities. You should not intentionally create the impression, in public appearances or statements, that you are representing the university unless, in fact, you are.