Campus Speech

Lawsuit Over Chalking Ban Dropped After Iowa State University Changes Some of Its Policies

Beardshear Hall, Iowa State University campus. October 19, 2007. SD Dirk.

A lawsuit filed in January against Iowa State University (ISU) has been dropped after the university agreed to amend some of its policies in an out-of-court settlement signed on March 10th. 

See previous story: Iowa State University Faces Lawsuit After Banning Chalk Messages

The original complaint claimed that ISU’s ban on campaign emails, as well as the university’s temporary restrictions on chalking, censored students’ political expression. The suit also took aim at the school’s Campus Climate Reporting System, a kind of bias incident response team, claiming it deterred university members from expressing controversial views out of fear that it might trigger an investigation.

According to the Des Moines Register, which published a copy of the settlement, the university has agreed to amend its email policy to allow students to send emails about electoral candidates and ballot measures. The settlement notes that the previous chalking ban—which had been instituted temporarily after a number of racist drawings were found on campus and had banned all chalking unrelated to student club activities—was replaced in February with a less restrictive policy that only limits the time, place, and manner of chalking.

While the university was open to tweaking its rules governing emailing and chalking, the same cannot be said for its bias reporting system. According to the Des Moines Register, ISU plans to keep its Campus Climate Reporting System as is, arguing that the reporting system is “simply an information-gathering tool about how students are feeling” and cannot chill expression because it lacks punitive powers. 

No money was paid as part of the settlement. 

 Des Moines Register

 Original Complaint