UI Named In Worst Free Speech List

March 5, 2015


IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28)– The University of Iowa has been called one of the worst schools for free speech.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education came out with a list just days ago.

The list, they say, names the top 10 threats to free speech on campus.

Young Americans for Liberty is a non-partisan student organization at the University of Iowa.  Last week, before any lists came out, they set up large boards and invited anyone to write anything they wanted. They did it to support free speech.

“Sally Mason has enforced free speech zones on campus so you personally as a student organization have to apply for free speech on certain areas on campus,” says Alicia Freiburg of UI Young Americans for Liberty.

But not long after, police came to check it out.

“We didn’t apply to set up a table here. That was our point. We wanted to set it up without asking for permission,” says Freiburg.

UI officials say there is a reason they want students to ask.

“We want the opportunity to approve displays so that we can make sure that they are going to be safe, they’re not going to damage anything and that they are not going to be in a space that someone has already reserved,” says UI Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin.

He says UI encourages free speech. Anyone can carry a sign or say what they want anywhere on campus. He says a display isn’t approved or denied based on its message.

“The Pentacrest, Kautz Plaza and T. Anne Cleary are reservable spaces,” he says.

We asked what he thought of FIRE’s list. It mentions specifically an event last December when a paper statue resembling a klansman appeared at the Pentacrest.

“I think the list was based on a single incident that the makers of the list didn’t understand well,” he says.

Rocklin says so far the list hasn’t started any conversation about changing university policies.

“No. You know, we are much more interested in feedback from our campus community than from an organization with an agenda that isn’t part of our community,” he says.

Rocklin says if a student organization  is interested in setting up a display at another location, they would be open to that discussion.


Schools: University of Iowa Cases: University of Iowa: Art Professor’s Controversial Display Removed After Student Complaints