Freedom of Speech and Expression

Eastern Iowa Community College District, as a public institution of higher education, establishes this policy to comply with the laws of the state of Iowa and the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and to protect free speech and expression.

The primary function of an institution of higher education is the discovery, improvement, transmission and dissemination of knowledge by means of research, teaching, discussion and debate.  To fulfill this function, EICC shall strive to ensure the fullest degree of intellectual freedom and free expression allowed under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Definitions


“Campus community” means students, administrators, faculty and staff of EICC and guests invited to EICC by the College’s students, administrators, faculty or staff.

“Materially and substantially disrupts” means when a person, with the intent to or with knowledge of doing so, engages in violent or other disorderly conduct that significantly hinders a previously scheduled or reserved activity occurring on college grounds, building and facilities.  “Materially and substantially disrupts” does not include conduct that is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

“Outdoor areas of campus” means the generally accessible outside areas of campus where students, administrators, faculty and staff at the College are commonly allowed, such as grassy areas, walkways or other similar common areas.  This does not include areas outside health care facilities, veterinary medicine facilities, facilities and outdoor areas used by the College’s athletic programs or teams, or other outdoor areas where access is restricted to a majority of the campus.

“Student” means an individual who is admitted and enrolled on a full-time or part-time basis at the College.

“Student organization” means a group officially recognized at or officially registered by the College, or a group seeking such official recognition or official registration, comprising students who are admitted and in attendance at the College and who receive, or are seeking to receive, student organization benefits or privileges through the College.

Role


The proper role of an institution of higher education is to encourage diversity of thoughts, ideas and opinions and to encourage, within the bounds of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the peaceful, respectful and safe exercise of First Amendment rights.

It is not the proper role of the College to shield individuals from speech protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States which may include ideas and opinions the individual finds unwelcome, disagreeable or even offensive.

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 established principles of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions that are consistent with established First Amendment principles.

The outdoor areas of the College campus 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.

Public Forums


The outdoor areas of campus are deemed public forums.  The College may maintain and enforce clear, published, reasonable viewpoint-neutral time, place and manner restrictions that are narrowly tailored in furtherance of a significant institutional interest, but shall allow members of the campus community to engage in protective expressive activities consistent with established principles of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  If the College places restrictions, it shall provide ample alternative means of expression.

Except as provided in this policy, and subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions, the College shall not designate any area of campus a free-speech zone or otherwise create policies restricting expressive activities to a particular outdoor area of campus.

Protected Activities


The campus community shall be freely permitted to engage in noncommercial expressive activity in outdoor areas of campus, subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions as long as the campus community member’s conduct is not unlawful, does not impede other’s access to a facility or use of walkways, and does not disrupt the function of the college.

Protected activities include but are not limited to any lawful oral or written means by which members of the campus community may communicate ideas, including but not limited to peaceful assembly, protests, speeches, including invited speakers, distribution of literature, circulating petitions, and publishing, including publishing or streaming on an internet site, audio or video recorded in outdoor areas of campus.

Protected activities shall also include the right of student expression in a counter demonstration held in an outdoor area of campus, as long as the conduct at the counter demonstration is not unlawful, does not materially and substantially prohibit the free expression of others, or impede other’s access to a facility or use of walkways.

Nothing in this policy shall be construed to grant individuals the right to engage in conduct that intentionally, materially and substantially disrupts the expressive activity of a person or student organization if the College has reserved space in an outdoor area of campus for the activity in accordance with this policy.

Non-Protected Activities


The College may prohibit, limit or restrict expression and/or any expressive activities that are not otherwise protected by the Constitution of the United States.  Non-protected activities include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. A threat of serious harm and expression directed or likely directed to provoke imminent unlawful actions; and
  2. Harassment, including but not limited to expression which is so severe, pervasive, and subjectively and objectively offensive that the expression unreasonably interferes with an individual’s access to educational opportunities or benefits provided by this College and/or violates the College’s anti-harassment policies; and
  3. Violence; and
  4. Unlawful behavior or actions.

Student Organizations


The College shall not approve or deny benefits or privileges available to student organizations based on the viewpoint or expression of a student organization or its members protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  In addition, the College will not approve or deny any benefits or privileges to a student organization based on the organization’s requirement that its leaders agree to and support the organization’s beliefs as interpreted and applied by the organization, and to further the organization’s mission.  For purposes of this policy, “benefits” means recognition, registration, use of facilities for meetings or speaking purpose, use of channels of communication, and access to funding sources otherwise available to other student groups.

Complaints


If a member of the college community believes they have been aggrieved by a violation of this policy, the member shall follow the College’s complaint policy and procedure.  In the event the matter is not satisfactorily resolved through the appropriate complaint process, or otherwise as provided by Iowa law, the aggrieved member of the campus community may file a complaint with the EICCD Board of Trustees not later than one year after the alleged violation.

                    
DATE OF ADOPTION: 7/15/19
LEGAL REFERENCE: Code of Iowa) 260C; 261H