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.

Policy


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.  This policy is made and published by the college to prohibit intellectual restrictions and penalties based on protected speech, including political speech, to the fullest extent of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

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.

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.

Annual training on free speech and First Amendment protections shall be provided to the College’s students, faculty and staff.

Protected Activities


A member of the campus community, which for this policy shall include students, administrators, faculty, staff and/or guests invited by students, administrators, faculty or staff, 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. EICC may designate other areas of campus available for use by the campus community.  All access to designated areas will be granted on a viewpoint-neutral basis.

Noncommercial expressive 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.

If any faculty member of the college is found to have knowingly restricted the protected speech of a student, or otherwise penalizes a student for protected speech or activities, under the Student Conduct Code or other applicable policies or procedures for student conduct, the faculty member is subject to discipline, up to and including termination under the applicable faculty policies, procedures and Iowa law based on the totality of the facts.

In all instances, faculty and staff (including extracurricular coaches) may support a student’s First Amendment rights without fear of discipline by the college.

Non-Protected Activities


Nothing shall prevent the College from prohibiting, limiting or restricting 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 or 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 incitement to violence; and
  4. Unlawful behavior or actions.

Student Organizations


EICC will 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.  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.

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, student organization means a group officially recognized or registered by the College, or a group seeking official recognition or registration comprised of students who are admitted and in attendance at the College who receive or are seeking to receive benefits or privileges.

Student Government


Student government organizations must comply with the requirements of this Policy and not infringe upon speech by a member of the campus community protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  A student government organization that knowingly and intentionally violates this policy shall have its authority to manage and disburse student fees, if any, suspended for a period of one year.  During this period of suspension, student fees shall be managed and disbursed by EICC.  Nothing in this Policy shall prohibit student government organizations from enforcing content-neutral time, place and manner restrictions and/or reasonable rules to ensure the orderly operation of meetings, so long as those rules are content-neutral and consistent with the requirements of this Policy.

Public Forms on Campus – Freedom of Association


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 spontaneous expressive activity and to distribute literature.  If this 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.

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.

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 as described in Administrative Procedure E4. 

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.

Retaliation against any member of the campus community who files such a complaint is prohibited, and any founded instance of retaliation is subject to discipline or other sanctions.

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DATE OF ADOPTION:                     7/15/19
REVISED FIRST READING:           8/16/21
LEGAL REFERENCE:                     (Code of Iowa) 260C; 261H; HF744
RELATED ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES:  E4