Free Speech

Iowa State English Professor Forbids Papers "Against Gay Marriage, Abortion, Black Lives Matter,"

threatens to kick students out of class for "othering." Fortunately, the university has stepped in and rejected this position.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |


Here is the syllabus (drawn from the Young America's Foundation story):

The key passage:

GIANT WARNING: any instances of othering that you participate in intentionally (racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, sorophobia, transphobia, classism, mocking of mental health issues, body shaming, etc) in class are grounds for dismissal from the classroom. The same goes for any papers/projects: you cannot choose any topic that takes at its base that one side doesn't deserve the same basic human rights as you do (ie: no arguments against gay marriage, abortion, Black Lives Matter, etc). I take this seriously.

Fortunately, Iowa State University takes student academic freedom seriously, too, at least to the point of issuing this statement (which I've confirmed with the University itself):

The syllabus statement as written was inconsistent with the university's standards and its commitment to the First Amendment rights of students. After reviewing this issue with the faculty member, the syllabus has been corrected to ensure it is consistent with university policy. Moreover, the faculty member is being provided additional information regarding the First Amendment policies of the university.

Iowa State is firmly committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of its students, faculty, and staff. With respect to student expression in the classroom, including the completion of assignments, the university does not take disciplinary action against students based on the content or viewpoints expressed in their speech.