University of Iowa

Location: Iowa City, Iowa
Type: Public
Federal Circuit: 8th Circuit

Speech Code Rating

University of Iowa has been given the speech code rating Red. A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech. Read more here.

This school does not have any cases at this time.

Red Light Policies

  • Sexual Harassment Examples 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Red Flags / Harassing Behavior ... Anyone who makes unwanted and repeated statements about your clothes, body or personal life ... Somebody puts up sexually graphic posters, magazines, screensavers, web pages, and/or emails where you can see them. ... Someone you met puts pressure on you for sex (included repeated requests, staring, or other persistent behavior). ... The University of Iowa forbids these types of behaviors and has a sexual harassment policy and related policies.

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Yellow Light Policies
  • Code of Student Life 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Personal conduct perceived as threatening or harassing is considered a violation of the Code of Student Life under a reasonable person standard even if the student did not intend to discomfort the party who felt threatened or harassed, or the party to the unwanted attention did not specifically direct the student to refrain from contacting him/her. After an individual does request that a student refrain from contacting him or her, further communication is ordinarily considered an act of prohibited harassment.

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  • Policies & Regulations Affecting Students: Sexual Misconduct Involving Students, Including Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Comments or communications could be verbal, written, or electronic. Behavior does not need to be directed at or to a specific student, but rather may be generalized unwelcomed and unnecessary comments based on sex or gender stereotypes.

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  • Policies & Regulations Affecting Students: Use of Campus Outdoor Areas 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies, Statement

    The University of Iowa permits eligible groups to sponsor events on the Pentacrest as long as those events are conducted under reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions promulgated by University departments.

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  • Policies & Regulations Affecting Students: University Policy on Anti-Harassment 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    "Harassment" means intentional conduct directed toward an identifiable person or persons that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent that it interferes with work, educational performance, on-campus living, or participation in a University activity on- or off-campus.

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  • What is Sexual Harassment? 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Sexual harassment can occur whenever somebody says or does something sexually related that you don’t want them to say or do, regardless of who it is. Whether such unwelcome sexual behavior is sexual harassment depends on the circumstances in which the behavior occurs. For example:

    When someone

    * Talks about their sexual experiences.
    * Asks you to talk about yours.
    * Tells sexual jokes, innuendoes, and stories, or comments (about your clothes or body, or someone else’s).

    Such behavior can constitute sexual harassment if it interferes with your work or educational performance, or creates an intimidating or hostile environment for your employment, education, on-campus living, or participation in a University activity.

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Green Light Policies
  • Policies & Regulations Affecting Students: University Policy on Sexual Harassment 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies, Statement

    Behavior that may be considered evidence of prohibited sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, the following: ... c) Direct propositions of a sexual nature;

    (d) Subtle pressure for sexual activity, an element of which may be repeated staring;

    (e) A pattern of sexually explicit statements, questions, jokes, or anecdotes, whether made orally, in writing, or through electronic media (see also II-19 Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources) ... (g) A display of graphic sexual material (not legitimately related to the subject matter of a course, if one is involved, or to job requirements) in a context where others are not free to avoid the display because of an employment or educational requirement or without surrendering a privilege or opportunity that others may reasonably expect to enjoy in that location.

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  • Policies & Regulations Affecting Students: Student Bill of Rights 12-13

    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression, Statement

    [E]numeration of the rights or registration at the University shall in no manner be construed to nullify or limit any other constitutional or legal rights or freedoms possessed by students as citizens or residents of the United States or the State of Iowa.

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  • Campus Protest Shows Pressure for Action on Rape

    March 12, 2014

    by the Associated Press at The New York Times IOWA CITY, Iowa — As much as any college administrator could be, University of Iowa President Sally Mason was prepared for the growing nationwide pressure to curb campus sexual assaults. An experienced leader with a calm but determined approach, Mason had taken steps that made the 30,000-student university a model on the issue. Following a high-profile assault involving football players in 2007, Mason hired an administrator to coordinate help for victims and mandated prevention training for employees. And she had personal experience, having to fight off an assailant while an undergraduate in […]

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  • Report: UI, ISU and UNI on “red light” speech code list

    December 18, 2012

    A new report lists the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa among schools that earn the lowest rating regarding free speech on campus. The UI, ISU and UNI were among the schools on the “red light” list from the 2013 report on campus speech codes by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.  Grinnell College was on the “yellow light” list in the report. More than three-fifths — 62.1 percent — of the 409 schools surveyed have speech codes that “clearly fail to meet First Amendment standards,” according to the foundation. Those schools were […]

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  • Unlearning Liberty

    October 23, 2012

    Author’s Note: On Wednesday, October 24th, I will be debating liberal Rick Perlstein and libertarian Jim Harper at NC State University in Raleigh. The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 6 pm in Dabney Hall. Despite their feigned interest in tolerance, college campuses are among the most punitive and stifling environments in the country. Students are routinely punished for “offenses” ranging from penning mild satire to holding the wrong opinions on important social and political issues. One book, Unlearning Liberty, by Greg Lukianoff, documents these abuses better than any other that has been written since I joined the […]

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  • Law prof denied job because of pro-life, pro-family activism: lawsuit

    October 15, 2012

    DAVENPORT, Iowa, October 15, 2012, ( —  Being pro-life and supporting traditional marriage could cost you a tenured position at a public law school, according to a lawsuit filed in Iowa. Wagner graduated from the University of Iowa Law School in 1993 and has since returned to Iowa City to teach part-time at her alma mater. She has also taught at George Mason University and Notre Dame.Teresa Wagner has sued the University of Iowa, saying the law school has denied her two positions over the last five years because of her work in the National Right to Life Committee and the Family Research […]

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  • UI free speech policy disappoints

    January 12, 2005

    Certainly our freedom of speech is one of the most cherished and fundamental rights in this country. Unfortunately, the United States falls far short of the ideal put forth in the old saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Far too many people are now more than willing to suppress the speech of others simply because they find it offensive. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this move towards oppression is that our nation’s universities are leading the way. At the University of Oklahoma, a disgraceful group of […]

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  • University of Iowa President Under Fire for Expressing Candid Opinion

    March 5, 2014

    University of Iowa President Sally Mason is currently at the center of a controversy because she dared to say something that goes against the prevailing campus orthodoxy.

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  • Eighth Circuit to Hear Oral Arguments in Teresa Wagner’s Political Bias Case

    February 14, 2014

    Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit was set to hear oral arguments in a long-running case involving Teresa Wagner, a candidate for legal writing instructor at the University of Iowa College of Law who alleges that she was denied the employment opportunity due to her political beliefs. In a case that we have written about several times, Wagner is before the Eighth Circuit seeking a new trial on her allegations that the law school’s decision not to hire her violated her First Amendment right to free speech as well as her Fourteenth Amendment right to equal […]

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  • Jurors: Law School Discriminated Against Teresa Wagner Due to Her Political Beliefs

    November 27, 2012

    Last week, The Des Moines Register reported that jurors in the Teresa Wagner case believe that the University of Iowa College of Law “illegally denied a promotion to a conservative Republican because of her politics.” The story has been picked up by various legal blogs. At FIRE, we have covered the Wagner case before.  The most interesting result of the jury verdict last week is that the jury was convinced Wagner was discriminated against due to her political beliefs but believed it was the University of Iowa College of Law itself, and not the dean, that was responsible for the […]

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  • ‘New York Times’ Covers Teresa Wagner Case

    January 10, 2012

    Adam Liptak, the Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times, reports on Teresa Wagner’s recent victory at the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which I analyzed in a recent blog entry here on The Torch. An outspoken conservative, Wagner is suing the University of Iowa School of Law, alleging that it violated her First Amendment rights of political belief and association by denying her a position due to her political views. Liptak does some interesting legwork, his piece concluding with this zinger from Walter Olson at the Cato Institute: [T]here’s a karma factor here. Law […]

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  • Eighth Circuit: Administrators May Be Personally Liable for Political Discrimination in Faculty Hiring

    December 30, 2011

    On Wednesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued a decision in Wagner v. Jones, No. 10-2588, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 25879 (8th Cir. Dec. 28, 2011). The opinion is an interesting read, even for non-lawyers. The suit at issue was brought by Teresa Wagner, currently the Associate Director of the Writing Resource Center at the University of Iowa School of Law. Prior to this position, Wagner’s applications for the position of Legal Analysis, Writing, and Research (LAWR) instructor were repeatedly rejected. Wagner subsequently filed suit in federal court against the dean of the law school, […]

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  • (Lack of) Free Speech on Iowa’s Public Campuses

    May 11, 2011

    Deborah D. Thornton of the Iowa City Press-Citizen (Iowa City, Iowa) sheds light (reprinted in The Modern Whig Party) on the rigid speech restrictions imposed on students at Iowa’s three Regent schools: the University of Iowa (UI), Iowa State University (ISU), and the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). Thornton exposes many of the red-light and yellow-light policies in force at these schools, including the unconstitutional “free speech zones” at ISU and UI, while noting the recent efforts of ISU students to eliminate these restrictive speech policies. Adam is also quoted in the article, discussing the importance of fighting disfavored speech with more speech […]

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  • Iowa Professor’s Email Telling College Republicans ‘F@#$ YOU’ Reveals Importance of Free Exchange on Campus

    April 22, 2011

    The recent, highly publicized email exchange between Ellen Lewin, anthropology and women’s studies professor at the University of Iowa (UI), and the UI College Republicans presents an exciting scenario to the First Amendment enthusiast. This email exchange reveals both the innate desire to communicate anger using inflamed rhetoric, and the opposing reflex of those offended to overreact. The emails also demonstrate the importance of allowing speech to be aired freely. Free exchanges readily expose expression that is extreme, ignorant, or unprofessional. This saga began when the College Republicans sent out a mass email, approved by the UI administration, inviting students to join […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: University of Iowa

    August 2, 2007

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for August 2007: the University of Iowa. Ah, how the mighty have fallen—as we mentioned just a few days ago, the University of Iowa once received FIRE’s most favorable “green light” rating. But now it has come to our attention that in addition to its official sexual harassment policy, the university also maintains a website——that defines sexual harassment in a way that violates its students’ First Amendment rights. According to the website, sexual harassment “occurs when somebody says or does something sexually related that you don’t want them to say or do, […]

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  • From Green to Red: A Cautionary Tale

    July 31, 2007

    I’m sad to report that one of our very few “green light” institutions (colleges and universities receive a “green light” rating on FIRE’s Spotlight if they maintain no written policies that infringe on constitutionally protected expression) was downgraded to a “red light” yesterday when I updated its policies for the 2006-2007 academic year.   The University of Iowa was one of only a handful of schools to be rated a “green light.” It earned this rating because its policies were consistent with the First Amendment. Its sexual harassment policy, for example, provides that: For purposes of this policy, “sexual harassment” […]

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