- In January 2020, Speech First sued Iowa State University to defend our student members’ First Amendment rights. We challenged the school’s ban on chalking, its prohibition on student emails related to campaigns and elections, and its Campus Climate Reporting System.
- Not long after we sued, the University made several substantive changes to the policies that we challenged; specifically, it abandoned its prohibition on political emails sent by students and abandoned its ban on chalking. All students can now chalk, regardless of their viewpoint or their membership in a student organization, in certain areas of the campus.
- To lock in these reforms, Speech First negotiated a settlement agreement with the University. Iowa State now agrees to never reinstate the political email policy or the chalking ban; in addition, the school’s Campus Climate Reporting System will not contact or meet with students accused of “biased” speech.
- We will continue to monitor Iowa State and its approach to students’ freedom of expression. The settlement reserves our right to challenge the CCRS again in the future, and to challenge the new chalking policy if it effectively chills speech.
“Speech First is pleased that Iowa State University has agreed to repeal and never reinstate the policies we challenged, which clearly violated the First Amendment rights of its students,” said president Nicole Neily. “Our student members at Iowa State University deserve major credit for their vigilance in defense of their rights, and I have no doubt that if the University’s new policies are used to chill students’ speech in the future, our members will notify us immediately.”
“It’s unfortunate that the school changed its policies only after the Iowa caucuses, impacting students’ ability to fully participate in that important process. These students deserved better, and parents who
are considering where to send their students to ISU in the future should bear that in mind.”