The Point

The First Amendment Matters at Iowa State University


John Stonestreet

Roberto Rivera

This state university stands for the free exchange of ideas.

According to the course syllabus, English 250 at Iowa State is designed to help students “develop skills in written, oral, visual, and electronic communication.” They are required to submit papers and presentations on a variety of subjects.

But in this course, some subjects were off-limits. “Arguments against gay marriage, abortion, Black Lives Matter etc,” were, according to the syllabus, not allowed. In fact, and I quote here, “Any instances of othering that you participate in intentionally (racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, sorophobia, transphobia, classism, mocking of mental health issues, body shaming, etc) are grounds for dismissal from the classroom.”

Thankfully, the Iowa State administration not only forced the professor to amend the syllabus and emphasize the university’s commitment to the free exchange of ideas, but also agreed to provide faculty members with “guidance on First Amendment protections for student expression in the classroom.”

Good for Iowa State.

Download the MP3 audio here.


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