Iowa Board of Regents

Freedom of Expression Recommendations

At its February 24 meeting, the Board of Regents will consider recommendations from the Free Speech Committee. Formed last November to evaluate implementations of Board policy and best practices from other institutions regarding free speech and to bring recommendations on how to strengthen the Regents’ own free speech efforts, the committee will bring forth 10 recommendations for the Board’s consideration:

  1. All syllabi shall include a statement on first amendment free speech protections. This statement will encourage open inquiry and vigorous debate and note that students cannot be penalized for the content of their viewpoints so long as they are germane to the subject matter of the class.
  2. Syllabus free speech statements should be reviewed at the beginning of each course.
  3. Reaffirm the Board’s stance that university resources shall not be used for partisan activities. Registered student organizations and individual students will still be able to utilize university facilities and email.
  4. Universities, including university leadership, may take institutional positions on policy matters only in conjunction with the Board.
  5. Universities cannot permit discrimination or denial of educational benefits because of the viewpoints of student organizations or individual students.
  6. The free speech committee will be established as a permanent Board committee. It will review free speech complaints, annually review all free speech policies, review university training and survey faculty, staff and students on free speech matters every two years.
  7. Universities will post Board policy on free speech and appeal procedures regarding violation of those policies on their websites.
  8. Universities will add free expression policies and procedures, including penalties for violations, to their current processes for violations. 
  9. The Board will review data from campus climate surveys and national surveys regarding free speech. The committee will determine if additional surveys are warranted. 
  10. Universities will provide training on free speech to all students, faculty and staff on an annual basis. University presidents will appoint appropriate campus members to assist the committee in developing a common module for all three universities. 

Freedom of speech is the bedrock upon which our campuses were built. These 10 recommendations will help provide a policy-based framework to guard and enhance our founding principle of free expression. Protecting freedom of expression now and in the future is vital to the success of Iowa’s public universities.

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