Following FIRE’s release of our 2012 speech code report earlier this week, an article yesterday in the Ames Tribune drew attention to the unfortunate state of free speech at Iowa’s public universities, particularly at Iowa State University.
As a public university, Iowa State is obligated to protect its students’ First Amendment rights, but its policies explicitly reserve the right to punish protected speech. Its policy on discrimination and harassment (.pdf), for example, provides that "this policy may cover those activities which, although not severe, persistent, or pervasive enough to meet the legal definition of harassment, are inappropriate and unjustified in an educational or work environment." And a second harassment policy (.pdf) states that "Engaging in First Amendment protected speech activities may not rise to the level of harassment, depending on the circumstances." (Emphasis added.)
In these troubling policies, Iowa State is explicitly reserving the right to discipline students for constitutionally protected speech-something it simply may not do.
For more on Iowa State’s policies, including comments from FIRE’s Adam Kissel and from Iowa State administrators, read the full article here.