Iowa State University

Location: Ames, Iowa
Type: Public
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Speech Code Rating

Iowa State University has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more

This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech. This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech. This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech.
  • Policy Library: Discrimination and Harassment

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: March 8, 2019

    Iowa State University also prohibits harassment, which can be a form of discrimination if it is unwelcome and is sufficiently severe or pervasive and objectively offensive so as to substantially interfere with a person’s work or education. Harassment may include, but is not limited to, threats, physical contac... Read More
  • Policy Library: Acceptable Use of Information Technology Resources

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: March 8, 2019

    Key prohibitions include: * Sending unsolicited messages, including “junk mail” or other advertising material, to individuals who did not specifically request such material, except as approved under the policy on Mass Email and Effective Electronic Communication. * Engaging in harassment via electronic c... Read More
  • Policy Library: Inclusive Language

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Other Speech Codes
    Last updated: March 8, 2019

    All university publications and communication, whether oral or written, shall use inclusive language and illustrations. Inclusive language refers to language that makes every attempt to include comprehensively all groups in the community. Whenever possible, selection of academic materials will also reflect efforts t... Read More
  • Policy Library: Student Disciplinary Regulations (Code of Conduct)

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: March 8, 2019

    Students have certain rights as members of the university community in addition to those constitutional and statutory rights and privileges provided by the State of Iowa and the United States of America, and nothing in this document shall be construed so as to violate students’ constitutional rights. Read More
  • Policy Library: Student Disciplinary Regulations (Code of Conduct)

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: March 8, 2019

    Iowa State University is an institution that encourages the intellectual and personal growth of its students as scholars and citizens. As an educational institution, the university recognizes that the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, and the development of individuals require the free exchange of ide... Read More
  • Policy Library: Procedures, Applications, and Guidance: Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Assault, and Sexual Harassment Involving Students Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: March 8, 2019

    i. General definition: Sexual and/or gender-based harassment can include unwelcome behavior (verbal, written, physical) that is directed at someone because of that person’s sex, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity, and that meets any of the following criteria: … The unwelcome conduct creates a... Read More
  • Policy Library: Facilities and Grounds Use, Activities

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: March 8, 2019

    Outdoor Areas Non-Commercial Expressive Activities (Free Speech) ISU embraces the sharing of knowledge and ideas through public discourse and free speech. As part of this community devoted to learning, ISU students, faculty, staff, and visitors are encouraged to engage in respectful dialogue. Any member of the unive... Read More
  • Iowa State University – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit

    July 1, 2014

    Following criticism about a T-shirt featuring a marijuana leaf, the ISU rescinded approval for the T-shirt and adopted new regulations specifically designed to restrict NORML ISU’s ability to engage in political advocacy.

  • Iowa Board of Regents, University of Iowa faculty commit to free speech and academic freedom

    May 9, 2019

    There is good news for free speech at Iowa’s public universities. Last month, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa adopted a policy statement that promotes free speech and freedom of association at member institutions, including the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa. In so doing, the Board joined… Read more

  • FIRE lawsuit against Iowa State University administrators ends with nearly $1 million in damages and fees

    March 23, 2018

    After nearly four years and a trip to and from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, Gerlich v. Leath — FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project lawsuit against Iowa State University administrators — came to an end this week with an order entering judgment for the plaintiffs and awarding them nearly $600,000… Read more

  • Iowa taxpayers watch their money go up in smoke over censorship

    January 10, 2018

    Talk may be cheap, but silencing speech can be quite expensive — a lesson administrators at Iowa State University are quickly learning from one of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project lawsuits. In August, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit denied ISU’s petition asking for a rehearing of the court’s… Read more

  • FIRE victory stands: Eighth Circuit denies Iowa State University’s request for rehearing

    August 9, 2017

    Earlier this afternoon, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit denied Iowa State University’s petition for a rehearing en banc or panel rehearing. The decision leaves in place FIRE’s biggest Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project victory to date. Just last month, a three-judge panel of the Eighth Circuit reaffirmed and expanded… Read more

  • Eighth Circuit reaffirms victory at Iowa State: School still can’t censor pot legalization T-shirts

    June 14, 2017

    Yesterday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reaffirmed and expanded upon a February opinion that gave FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project our biggest victory to date. In February, the Eighth Circuit panel unanimously upheld a federal district court’s ruling to permanently bar Iowa State University from… Read more

  • Iowa State University settles First Amendment lawsuit, changes policies

    April 12, 2017

    FIRE promised to update readers about a First Amendment lawsuit filed by an Iowa State University student against ISU in October. Last week, the student’s lawyers announced that the lawsuit had been settled and that ISU had agreed to change the speech code at issue in the suit. Robert Dunn, the ISU student-plaintiff, was represented… Read more

  • Victory in Eighth Circuit: Iowa State Can’t Censor Pot Legalization T-Shirts

    February 13, 2017

    University used trademark policy to censor pro-legalization campus group Appeals Court upholds lower court ruling barring university’s censorship Decision is the tenth consecutive victory for FIRE’s litigation project ST. PAUL, Minn. Feb. 13, 2017—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project has notched its biggest victory to date.  … Read more

  • New Lawsuit Challenges Speech Code at Iowa State University

    October 25, 2016

    Earlier this month, Alliance Defending Freedom, which describes itself as “a non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith,” announced that it is representing a student at Iowa State University who filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging an ISU speech code. According to the complaint, ISU… Read more

  • Another Victory in Iowa State NORML Chapter’s Fight to Advocate for Marijuana Legalization

    April 7, 2016

    Iowa State University’s (ISU’s) relentless campaign to prevent the campus chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML-ISU) from including a pot leaf in the group’s T-shirt designs has met with another defeat. In January, a federal district court judge ruled in FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech case that ISU had… Read more

  • Despite Multiple Legal Setbacks, Iowa State’s Desire to Censor Remains Strong

    March 10, 2016

    Important questions about the state of free speech on campus are still evolving in Iowa, where FIRE recently announced a victory after a federal court ordered Iowa State University (ISU) to stop using its trademark policy to censor the T-shirt designs of the campus chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws… Read more

  • Federal Court Ruling Against Iowa State Means Administrators Can’t Just Plead Ignorance of First Amendment Law

    February 19, 2016

    Last month, FIRE announced a victory in our Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project case against Iowa State University (ISU) for its viewpoint-based discrimination against the campus chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML ISU). In that case, ISU selectively applied a policy specifically designed to prevent NORML ISU from… Read more

  • Victory: Federal Court Orders Iowa State to Stop Censoring Student T-Shirts Advocating Marijuana Legalization

    January 22, 2016

    DES MOINES, Iowa, January 22, 2016—Today, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa issued a permanent injunction barring Iowa State University (ISU) administrators from using a trademark policy to prevent the campus chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML ISU) from printing t-shirts depicting a marijuana leaf…. Read more

  • ISU Student Government Votes Down Additional Free Speech Zone

    December 8, 2015

    According to an article in the student newspaper Iowa State Daily, “Senators Vote to Advocate Free Speech” by Michaela Ramm, the Iowa State University (ISU) student government voted on December 2 against instituting an additional “free speech zone” on campus but voted in favor of advocating for free speech. This makes little sense. To be… Read more

  • ISU’s Attempt to Stifle Marijuana Legalization Student Group Scrutinized in Federal Court

    November 20, 2015

    Amidst the student protests taking place across the country this week, a protest of a different kind was playing out in a federal courthouse in Des Moines, Iowa. A year and a half ago, Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh, members of the Iowa State University (ISU) chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of… Read more

  • Supreme Court Considers Texas License Plate Case That Could Threaten Free Speech on Campus

    March 24, 2015

    This op-ed was published on Monday, March 23, 2015 in the Daily Journal. In Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans, due for oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court Monday, the respondent will argue that a private organization should be able to have a specialty license plate with the Confederate battle flag on it. On… Read more

  • Citing ‘Stand Up For Speech’ Cases, FIRE Urges Supreme Court Not to Expand ‘Government Speech’ Doctrine

    February 18, 2015

    Yesterday, FIRE filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in the case Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc., which is currently before the Supreme Court. An amicus brief allows organizations that are not directly involved in the litigation to share their expertise with the justices and make them aware of potential unintended… Read more

  • FIRE’s Sevcenko Breaks Down Federal Court Ruling on Iowa State Lawsuit

    January 12, 2015

    Readers of The Torch may remember FIRE’s Catherine Sevcenko’s helpful letter to the Iowa State Daily last October, pointing out a number of Iowa State University’s (ISU’s) failures to respect its students’ First Amendment rights. In that letter, Catherine noted a lawsuit against ISU that FIRE has coordinated as part of our Stand Up For… Read more

  • Media Report on Free Speech Lawsuit Against Iowa State Going Forward

    January 9, 2015

    On Tuesday, a federal judge handed down a ruling that will allow FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech lawsuit at Iowa State University to go forward. U.S. District Judge James Gritzner denied Iowa State University’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by students Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh, leaders of the chapter of the National Organization… Read more

  • Judge Rejects Every Argument in Iowa State’s Motion to Dismiss Free Speech Case

    January 7, 2015

    AMES, Iowa, January 7, 2015—Yesterday, an Iowa federal judge denied Iowa State University’s (ISU’s) motion to dismiss a First Amendment lawsuit filed by students. Chief Judge James Gritzner of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa rejected every one of ISU’s arguments in his 19-page order. This is the first time a… Read more

  • FIRE’s Catherine Sevcenko Explains the First Amendment to Iowa State

    October 28, 2014

    As Torch readers know, Iowa State University (ISU) is no stranger to free speech controversies. Two ISU students are currently suing ISU as part of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, fighting for the right to use the school’s mascot on their student group’s T-shirts. Recently, ISU’s Government of the Student Body (GSB) voted… Read more

  • Student Newspaper Thieves Don’t Appreciate Value of Journalism or the ‘Streisand Effect’

    October 10, 2014

    Disappointingly, in just the past two weeks FIRE has learned from the Student Press Law Center’s (SPLC’s) website about three incidents of people stealing student newspapers on college campuses in apparent attempts to censor specific stories. In alarmingly short order, hundreds of copies of the student newspapers at Pepperdine University, Iowa State University, and Elmhurst… Read more

  • ISU Gets a Lesson in the Difference Between Trademark Law and the First Amendment

    September 25, 2014

    On Monday, lawyers at Davis Wright Tremaine filed an opposition to Iowa State University’s (ISU’s) motion to dismiss the Stand Up For Speech lawsuit involving censorship of the school’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). (It’s a pretty standard tactic for defendants in a First Amendment case to make… Read more

  • Students Return to Campus Censorship, But Fight Back with FIRE

    September 2, 2014

    PHILADELPHIA, September 2, 2014—As millions of college students arrive on campus this fall—many for the first time—few of them realize that nearly 59 percent of our nation’s colleges maintain policies that clearly and substantially restrict speech protected by the First Amendment. Too many students will realize that the rights they took for granted as Americans… Read more

  • Letter to the Editor: Alumnus Says Iowa State University ‘Will Lose’ Case

    July 24, 2014

    As Torch readers are aware, one of the initial lawsuits in FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, Gerlich v. Leach, involves a challenge to Iowa State University’s unconstitutional trademark policy that ISU administrators have used to silence a student group advocating for the legalization of marijuana. Yesterday, the Iowa State Daily published a letter to the editor by Kenneth Currie, an ISU alumnus. ISU’s associate general counsel didn’t listen to us when we wrote him to say that ISU’s policies were unconstitutional. Maybe the administration will listen to Dr. Currie.

  • FIRE’s Sevcenko on Iowa State Lawsuit for ‘Huffington Post’

    July 10, 2014

    FIRE Litigation Coordinator Catherine Sevcenko takes to The Huffington Post today to explain why Iowa State University students Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh are standing up for speech at their institution by filing a First Amendment lawsuit.

  • This Fourth of July, Students and Faculty Are ‘Retracing the Steps to Free Speech’

    July 4, 2014

    We learn in grade school that freedom of speech is the hallmark of a free nation and the cornerstone of democracy. Yet the urge to censor seems almost irresistible, no matter who wields authority. As FIRE followers know all too well, public colleges and universities routinely restrict and punish constitutionally protected expression. In academia, where First Amendment freedoms are most precious, they are at serious risk. Nearly 60 percent of the 427 institutions that FIRE has surveyed maintain policies that clearly and substantially infringe upon freedom of speech.

  • FIRE’s Shibley in ‘Washington Post’: Lawsuits ‘About to Become a Lot More Common’

    July 2, 2014

    Following yesterday’s launch of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley takes to The Washington Post today to explain why litigation is necessary:

  • Help Students and Professors Stand Up For Speech! Support FIRE Today

    July 2, 2014

    This week was an exciting one for FIRE, as we took a huge step forward in the fight for free expression on campus with the launch of our Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. While we’re proud to usher in this new era in FIRE’s history, we’re even prouder to do so alongside the brave students and faculty members who have taken this opportunity to stand up for speech. We hope you will consider supporting these plaintiffs as they fight back against campus censorship.

  • Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project Makes Media Splash

    July 2, 2014

    Yesterday, FIRE launched our new Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, a national effort to eliminate unconstitutional speech codes through targeted First Amendment lawsuits. Within minutes of the announcement, major media outlets were spreading the word, and over the past 24 hours, the nation’s top newspapers have reported on this big step in the fight for free speech on campus. Here is some of yesterday’s and today’s news coverage of Stand Up For Speech and the four lawsuits FIRE brought yesterday with the help of law firm Davis Wright Tremaine:

  • FIRE Brings Four Free Speech Lawsuits in One Day

    July 1, 2014

    WASHINGTON, July 1, 2014—This morning, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) coordinated the filing of lawsuits against Ohio University, Chicago State University, Iowa State University, and Citrus College (Calif.). The filings launch FIRE’s new Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, a national effort to eliminate unconstitutional speech codes through targeted First Amendment lawsuits…. Read more

  • The Chilling Effect at Iowa State

    January 26, 2012

    The Iowa State Daily has devoted much coverage this week to the issue of free speech on campus, prompted in large part by the publication of FIRE’s latest national report on campus speech codes across the country, in which Iowa State University receives a "red light" rating for its speech codes. These ratings, of course,… Read more

  • Student Paper Points Out Flaws in Iowa State’s ‘Red Light’ Harassment Policies

    January 25, 2012

    Writing for the Iowa State Daily, Kaleb Warnock quotes FIRE Director of Speech Code Research Samantha Harris on Iowa State University’s (ISU’s) unconstitutional speech codes. Specifically, Warnock’s article draws attention to ISU’s two “red light” harassment policies, each of which prohibits a substantial amount of protected student expression.  These policies constitute a severe misapplication of… Read more

  • ‘Ames Tribune’ on Iowa State’s Speech Codes

    January 13, 2012

    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… Read more

  • College Students Defy Free Speech Restrictions to Celebrate Death of Bin Laden

    May 2, 2011

    The announcement late last evening that U.S. forces had killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan inspired celebrations outside the White House, in New York City, and on a number of college campuses. Spontaneous gatherings in response to major events—such as beginning or ending a war, an assassination, a heinous campus crime—are natural and to be… Read more

  • Students Celebrate First Amendment Day at Iowa State University

    April 9, 2010

    Students at Iowa State University celebrated the university’s eighth annual First Amendment Day yesterday, holding a day-long series of public events and panel discussions on the issues currently facing free speech. First Amendment Day this year featured a keynote address on “Watchdog Journalism in the 21st Century,” delivered by Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune reporter Joe… Read more