New Required Syllabus Statement on Free Expression


Date:         November 11, 2020

To:             Iowa State University Faculty

From:       Jonathan Wickert
                 Senior Vice President and Provost

Subject:    New required syllabus statement on free expression


Protecting the academic freedom of faculty and their scholarly activities is a foundational principle of higher education. As noted in the Faculty Handbook (Section 7.1.1), academic freedom “encourages and guarantees the right to inquiry, discourse, and learning that characterize a community of scholars.”

It is equally important that we recognize and protect the free expression rights of our students. With that in mind, I am writing to share a new, required syllabus statement that affirms Iowa State University’s commitment and existing policies:

Iowa State University supports and upholds the First Amendment protection of freedom of speech and the principle of academic freedom in order to foster a learning environment where open inquiry and the vigorous debate of a diversity of ideas are encouraged.  Students will not be penalized for the content or viewpoints of their speech as long as student expression in a class context is germane to the subject matter of the class and conveyed in an appropriate manner.  

I want to thank the Faculty Senate’s Executive Board for discussions and consultation in developing this syllabus statement, which is also available on the website of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching.  This statement is to be used verbatim for all Iowa State University courses beginning with the upcoming Winter Session.

I ask that department chairs share this information with graduate student instructors and teaching assistants.