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Barton trustees reconsider TikTok
Research on use of digital media continues

Tuesday’s Barton Community College Board of Trustees meeting concluded with trustee Don Learned repeating his belief that the college should stop advertising on social medium TikTok.

He put his request in the form of a motion but agreed to withdraw it upon hearing the issue is being researched by Barton’s Communications Department and Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman at this time.

Learned spoke just before the trustees adjourned, during the “public comment” portion of the meeting.

“I wish the college would stop advertising on TikTok,” he said. “It gives the Communist Party an insight into our college. I don’t think our college should be spending money on TikTok.”

Learned raised similar objections at an earlier meeting where he said he would put that in the form of a motion but he doubted anyone would second the motion. This time he said he was making a motion even though he still didn’t expect a second, which is needed for the board to vote.

Board chairman Mike Johnson said the board couldn’t vote on it in any case, because it wasn’t on the agenda.

“Dr. Heilman and the Communication Department are actively looking at the TikTok situation,” Johnson said. “I would like to let them have time to evaluate and then come back with a proposal.”

Trustee Gary Burke told Learned, “I had every intention of seconding your motion.” After hearing that more research is being done, he said, “I’m not going to; let’s see their recommendation.”

Johnson said the college should wait until the end of the fiscal year on June 30 and suggested the issue could be on the July agenda.


Board discussion on TikTok began at the March 14 study session when Maggie Harris, Barton’s chief communications officer, presented a marketing plan for 2023-2026. She reported TikTok is one of the digital media used to reach a large segment of the college’s target audience. Learned raised questions then and at subsequent meetings, saying he is not opposed to individuals using TikTok but he is concerned because he doesn’t want the college’s money going to it. TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.

Meeting at a glance

Here’s a quick look at Tuesday’s meeting of the Barton Community College Board of Trustees

• Larissa Graham, director of Barton’s Child Development Center, joined other administrators to give the annual presentation on the CDC.

• Administrators gave a monitoring report on meeting regional workforce needs.

• Vice President of Administration Mark Dean gave a preliminary assessment of the Fiscal Year 24 budget.

• Director of Institutional Effectiveness Todd Mobrary gave an update on strategic planning.

• Faculty contracts were renewed. Those eligible for tenure were granted tenure. This list was similar to the one presented at the April 11 board study session with one change: Rhonda Wertz was added to the list of contracts not renewed due to resignation.

• New personnel were approved: Carley Page is a student services specialist at the Fort Riley campus, Jacob Wilson will receive a contract to teach nursing on the Barton County campus, and Jennifer Steinert will receive a contract to teach business on the Barton County campus.

• Chairman Johnson is also the board’s representative to the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees. He reported the organization is dropping “Trustees” from its name because community college presidents are also active. In the future, the KACCT will be known as the KACC, although the legal name won’t change. This is similar to Barton County Community College now referring to itself as Barton Community College.