Wednesday, January 27, 2021

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” –United States Constitution, First Amendment.

The University of Iowa is fully committed to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and encourages open dialogue, free inquiry, and healthy, vigorous debate, which are the essence of a public research institution.

Freedom of expression is not only mandated by the United States Constitution, state law, and Board of Regents’ policy, but treasured as essential to the educational mission of the university. The exposure to the exchange of strongly held views is part of the educational process, a part that is necessary to foster leaders for a diverse and sometimes divided society.

It would, however, be naïve not to anticipate that some ideas expressed on this campus and even in some academic settings, such as classrooms and laboratories, will be perceived as loathsome by many members of our community and the public more generally. As history has taught us, speech that sparks strong disagreement or condemnation is most in need of protection.

Since open discourse is an indispensable element of teaching and learning, those who come to the university must be prepared to have their beliefs and expectations challenged, sometimes in ways they find offensive. Yet permitting the expression of such ideas is the predictable price of the freedoms we cherish.

Our task at the University of Iowa is to create a campus where free expression may occur among all members of our diverse community.