Iowa State University: After College Republicans’ “Arm Up” Tweet, Pledge to Punish “Any suggestion of Armed Activity”

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Iowa State University

On November 9, 2020, FIRE wrote to Iowa State University, which pledged to punish “[a]ny suggestion of armed activity.” The university’s pronouncement came in response to a tweet by its College Republicans chapter shortly after the 2020 presidential election: “Everyone, you must arm up, expect these people to attempt to destroy your life, the elites want revenge on us.” FIRE’s letter explained that Iowa State—a public university bound by the First Amendment—cannot punish students for political rhetoric that fails to rise to the exacting legal definition of a true threat or incitement. Within hours of FIRE’s letter, Iowa State affirmed that it only seeks to punish possession and use of prohibited weapons on campus—not protected expression—and that the College Republicans will not face disciplinary action for their tweet.