Iowa State University has reached a settlement with a group that accused the school of trying to suppress free speech on campus.

Speech First sued the university challenging the school’s ban on chalking political messages on sidewalks, the sending of e-mails for campaigns and elections, and the use of the ISU Campus Climate Reporting System.

Speech First President Nicole Neily says they dropped the lawsuit after the university agreed to changes in the policy for chalking and emails. She says the school’s Campus Climate Reporting System will also not contact or meet with students accused of “biased” speech.

ISU president Wendy Wintersteen issued a statement that says “the allegations of suppression made by Speech First were simply not true.” Wintersteen says no money was paid to Speech First by Iowa State University.

Here’s the Speech First statement:

“Speech First is pleased that Iowa State University has agreed to repeal and never reinstate the policies we challenged, which clearly violated the First Amendment rights of its students,” said president Nicole Neily. “Our student members at Iowa State University deserve major credit for their vigilance in defense of their rights, and I have no doubt that if the University’s new policies are used to chill students’ speech in the future, our members will notify us immediately.”

Here is President Wintersteen’s statement:

March 13, 2020
Iowa State University is very pleased to announce that a recent lawsuit against the university has been dropped by Speech First, Inc. The information submitted to the Court by Iowa State University showed that Iowa State’s policy and practice does not unconstitutionally restrict speech based on the content of speech or the viewpoint of the speaker. Moreover, the allegations of suppression made by Speech First were simply not true.

After seeing Iowa State University’s response and evidence, Speech First chose not to continue with the lawsuit. The University and Speech First entered into a settlement agreement confirming the dismissal of the lawsuit. No money was paid to Speech First by Iowa State University.

As a public institution, Iowa State University fully embraces its role as a First Amendment campus and is deeply committed to the constitutional protections of free expression. The protections afforded by the First Amendment and similar provisions in the Iowa Constitution are core values of Iowa State and are foundational to the university’s mission to create, share, and apply knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place.

Constitutional free speech provisions are designed to establish and protect the “free marketplace of ideas” that is a fundamental characteristic of university life. Iowa State University will continue to champion the First Amendment in our efforts to create a campus where all individuals and ideas are welcome.
Wendy Wintersteen
President