Students Against Racism Demands

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Administration's Response to Students Against Racism Demands

Students' Demand

University's Response

Declare a Zero Tolerance Policy towards Racism and Antisemitism

President Wintersteen and each of the members of her leadership team unequivocally denounces racism, anti-Semitism, and white supremacy in all forms and personally have a zero tolerance for racist, hateful, or bigoted speech and conduct.

As a part of State Government, Iowa State University is obligated to uphold the First Amendment, and therefore, cannot impose restrictions or punish individuals based upon the content of a person’s speech or because we do not agree with their ideology or beliefs. Even when we personally disagree with them with all of our hearts.

As a state institution, the University cannot punish someone because they support a certain political candidate or because they believe or promote a disfavored or unpopular political or social position.

We cannot punish individuals for having bigoted or hateful thoughts or even expressing bigoted thoughts or hate speech.  We cannot prevent you from hearing offensive speech or from seeing racist messages.

Expel the students who chalked the neo-Nazis slogans

The University does not know who was responsible for the recent chalking activity.

As a part of State Government, Iowa State University is obligated to uphold the First Amendment, and therefore, cannot impose restrictions or punish individuals based upon the content of a person’s speech or because we do not agree with their ideology or beliefs.  Even when we personally disagree with them with all of our hearts.

We cannot punish individuals for having bigoted or hateful thoughts or even expressing bigoted thoughts or hate speech.
Expel the students who vandalized the Bean House in Geoffroy Hall

The student who accepted responsibility for the vandalism on Bean House floor in Geoffroy Hall was held accountable for their conduct according to normal residence hall conduct policies and procedures. The University was unable to substantiate the involvement of any other students.

The University must apply discipline consistently and cannot punish someone more harshly based on the content of their speech or their beliefs, even when those beliefs or speech are racist, hateful, or bigoted, unless the speech at issue is a “true threat” or “harassment” as defined by the law and University policy.

A “true threat,” as defined by First Amendment law, occurs where there is a direct threat against an identified individual or group of individuals where the speaker has the intent of placing the victim in the reasonable fear of bodily harm or death.

The definition of “Harassment” under Iowa State University Policy can be found here. In general, Iowa State policy and the law requires harassment be conduct that is severe or pervasive and must pose a substantial and unreasonable interference with an individual’s education or employment to be actionable.

In order for conduct to constitute harassment and fall outside the definition of protected First Amendment speech, the alleged harassment “must include something beyond the mere expression of views, words, symbols or thoughts that some person finds offensive. . . . [T]he conduct must also be considered sufficiently serious to deny or limit a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program.”  Office for Civil Rights, First Amendment: Dear Colleague Letter, July 28, 2003.

The Department of Residence will work with the Inter-Residence Hall Association, Student Government, and key campus departments to explore changes to work toward eliminating acts of vandalism in the halls.

 

 

 

 

Students' Demand

University's Response

Expel students in the future who threaten or use Neo-Nazi language violating the Zero-tolerance policy

Where appropriate, students will be held responsible for misconduct pursuant to the Student Code of Conduct.

The University must apply discipline consistently and cannot punish someone more harshly based on the content of their speech or their beliefs, even when those beliefs and speech are racist, hateful, or bigoted, unless the speech at issue is a “true threat” or “harassment” as defined by the law and University policy. [Please see definitions provided in the response to Demand 3]

Shut down Students for Trump club that attached the neo-Nazi slogans to their political writings as continued harassment and interference in the academic life of hundreds of students

There is no recognized student organization with the name: Students for Trump; however, the university does allow students to form organizations based on common political ideologies without regard to the candidates or policies they support, provided they follow the Student Organization Recognition policy.

The University does not know who was responsible for the recent chalking activity.

As a part of State Government, Iowa State University is obligated to uphold the First Amendment, and therefore, cannot impose restrictions or punish individuals based upon the content of a person’s speech or because we do not agree with their ideology or beliefs.  Even when we personally disagree with them with all of our hearts.

We cannot punish individuals for having bigoted or hateful thoughts or even expressing bigoted thoughts or hate speech.

Fire the Student Government Advisor who wore blackface

We understand how hurtful and disturbing this image is. We are still examining the circumstances and context surrounding this incident in order to make an informed decision. Further updates will be provided to Student Government in the future.

Fire future staff engaging in racist or Anti-Semitic behaviorWhere appropriate, employees will be held responsible for misconduct pursuant to University policy, including the Faculty Handbook and policies governing Professional and Scientific and Merit staff.
Add Zero Tolerance to attacks against marginalized communities

The University will hold students responsible pursuant to the Student Code of Conduct where an individual’s actions violate University policy or State or Federal law.  This includes where an individual’s speech or expression crosses the line and becomes a “true threat” or “harassment” as defined by the law and University policy.

The University must apply discipline consistently and cannot punish someone more harshly based on the content of their speech or their beliefs, even when those beliefs or speech are racist, hateful, or bigoted, unless the speech at issue is a “true threat” or “harassment.” [Please see definitions provided in the response to Demand 3]

Add a student advisory board to the campus offices in charge of handling discrimination that is run by students of color

The Offices of Diversity and Inclusion and Equal Opportunity will work with students to create a student advisory council on issues related to harassment and discrimination.

This will be in addition to the current student advisory boards that exist for the ISU Police Department and Division of Student Affairs. Students are also included on the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Council.
Add zero tolerance to hate speech includes chalking

As a part of State Government, Iowa State University is obligated to uphold the First Amendment, and therefore, cannot impose restrictions or punish individuals based upon the content of a person’s speech or because we do not agree with their ideology or beliefs. Even when we personally disagree with them with all of our hearts.

We cannot punish individuals for having bigoted or hateful thoughts or even expressing bigoted thoughts or hate speech.  We cannot prevent you from hearing offensive speech or from seeing racist messages.

Add the university should be responsible for getting rid of hate speech (i.e. power washing)

As a part of State Government, Iowa State University is obligated to uphold the First Amendment, and therefore, cannot impose restrictions or punish individuals based upon the content of a person’s speech or because we do not agree with their ideology or beliefs. Even when we personally disagree with them with all of our hearts.

As a state institution, the University cannot punish someone because they support a certain political candidate or because they believe or promote a disfavored or unpopular political or social position.

We cannot punish individuals for having bigoted or hateful thoughts or even expressing bigoted thoughts or hate speech.  We cannot prevent you from hearing offensive speech or from seeing racist messages.

Students' Demand

University's Response

Add public statement by ISU explicitly condemning white supremacy

President Wintersteen issued a statement on October 30:

“I am proud of our students for standing up against bigotry and racism and for exercising their First Amendment rights. I join with them in condemning racism, white supremacy, and xenophobia. Bigoted messages and conduct are abhorrent and inconsistent with my values and the values we expect on our campus. We all have a responsibility to make Iowa State a welcoming and inclusive community. We will continue to work with our students to make sure their voices are heard and they feel supported.”

--President Wendy Wintersteen, October 30, 2019

President Wintersteen re-emphasized and strengthened this statement in a campus-wide letter on November 8:

“My leadership team and I condemn racism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia. Bigoted messages and conduct are abhorrent and inconsistent with our personal values, ISU’s Principles of Community, and the values we expect on our campus.”

Excerpted from President Wintersteen’s November 8, 2019, letter to students, faculty, and staff

Add mandatory extensive inclusivity and diversity training provided by professionals to all faculty and staff

Campus leaders – president, senior vice presidents, deans, and other senior leaders – will take cultural competency and cultural humility training before the start of spring semester 2020.

Starting spring semester 2020, the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching will conduct annual training for faculty in each academic department on the importance of, and approaches to, creating an inclusive classroom environment.

Starting immediately, all search committees for faculty and staff in academic affairs, and senior administrative positions will receive diversity, equity and inclusion training.

All college promotion and tenure committees will receive diversity, equity and inclusion training beginning with the next cycle.

Beginning spring semester 2020, everyone who lives in a residence hall will be required to take annual online diversity, equity, and inclusion training.

As part of new student onboarding, the university is piloting a one-credit online orientation course that includes diversity, equity and inclusion topics, as well as other topics related to first-year student success.

Add ISU PD extend its current Bias trainings to all officers not just at onboarding or those serving on the EIO (Engagement & Inclusion Team)

Iowa State University Police will continue and expand its annual bias trainings for all officers and will be extending it to all Department of Public Safety staff.

In addition, racial intelligence training will be held for all DPS supervisors in December and all officers in the spring.

Add future emails regarding attacks on marginalized communities should be more direct/less ambiguous – should clearly state the incidents that the email addresses and make it very clear that we do not tolerate this on our campusPer the students’ demands, the most recent communication to campus (Nov. 8) was more explicit and direct with regard to the recent racist incidents on campus. It also included a strong condemnation of the incidents. Subsequent communications to campus will follow this model.
ISU Admin needs to hold a meeting open to all students to check back about the demands no later than 2 weeks from Wednesday, October 30.Meeting held November 7, 2019

Originally posted 11/13/19 at campusclimate.iastate.edu/responses/sar

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