DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Board of Regents adopted a policy statement on the freedom of expression without discussion during their meeting on Thursday afternoon.

The Iowa Legislature passed and Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill in March requiring the Board to adopt a policy in response to actions taken by Iowa Regents schools that restrict students’ First Amendment rights.

The policy had to include the following statements:

  • That to fulfill the higher education institution’s mission it must allow the “the fullest degree of intellectual freedom and free expression allowed under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
  • That it is not the institution’s role to protect individuals from speech protected by the First Amendment which may include “ideas and opinions the individual finds unwelcome, disagreeable, or even offensive.”
  • That the role of the institution is to “encourage diversity of thoughts, ideas, and opinions and to encourage, within the bounds of the (F)irstAmendment.”
  • “That students and faculty have the freedom to discuss any problem that presents itself, assemble, and engage in spontaneous expressive activity on campus” within the bounds of the First Amendment and subject to reasonable restrictions on the manner, time, and space within the principles of the First Amendment.
  • “That the outdoor areas of campus of an institution of higher education are public forums, open on the same terms to any invited speaker subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions that are consistent with established principles of the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

Also, Iowa law now prohibits viewpoint discrimination towards student organization and prohibits institutions from punishing organizations who expect their leaders to abide by what the organization believes.

The new law addressed problems at the University of Iowa. The University of Iowa recentlylost one lawsuit for viewpoint discrimination and has another lawsuit pending when they kicked several faith-based organizations off campus.

Business Leaders in Christ was kicked off campus because they do not allow leaders who do not agree with their statement of faith, including what it says about sexual ethics, blocking LGBT students from leadership as a result. The University of Iowa deregistered InterVarsity Graduate Christian Fellowship because they also expect their leaders to agree with the organization’s statement of faith.

Read the policy below:

Photo: Iowa State University’s main campus. Photo credit: Joe Wolf (CC-By-ND 2.0)

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