Speech and Expression Policy
This College establishes this Policy to comply with the laws of the state of Iowa and to protect speech and expression at public institutions of higher education.
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, the institution must strive to ensure the fullest degree of intellectual freedoms and free expression allowed under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
It is not the proper role of an institution of higher education to shield individuals from speech protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which may include ideas and opinions the individual finds unwelcome, disagreeable, or even offensive.
It is the proper role of an institution of higher education 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.
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 campus of an institution of higher education 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, which for this Policy means the generally accessible outside areas of campus where the campus community are commonly allowed, such as grassy areas, walkways, or other similar common areas. Outdoor areas of campus do not include areas outside health care facilities, veterinary medicine facilities, facilities or outdoor areas used by this College’s athletic programs or teams, or other outdoor areas where access is restricted to a majority of the campus community.
Members of the campus community, which for this policy shall include students, faculty and staff and/or guests invited by students, faculty and staff, shall be freely permitted to engage in noncommercial expressive activity in outdoor areas of campus, subject to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, and as long as the member’s conduct is not unlawful, does not impede others’ access to a facility or use of walkways, and does not disrupt the functioning of the College. NIACC 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 included but are not limited to any lawful oral or written means by which members of the campus community may communicate ideas, including but limited to all forms of 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.
Nothing shall prevent NIACC from prohibiting, limiting, or restricting expression and/or expressive activity that is not otherwise protected by the Constitution of the United States. Non-protected activities include, but are not limited to the following:
- a threat of serious harm and expression directed to likely directed to provoke imminent unlawful actions; and
- harassment, including but not limited to expression which is so serve, pervasive, and subjectively and objectively offensive that the expression unreasonable interferes with an individuals’ access to educational opportunities or benefit provided by the College.
NIACC will not deny benefits and privileges available to student organizations based on the viewpoint or expression of the viewpoint of a student organization or its members protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. For the purposes of this policy, benefits means recognition, registration, use of facilities for meetings or speaking purposes, use of channels of communication, and access to funding sources otherwise available to other student groups.
In addition, NIACC shall not deny any benefits or privileges to a student organization based on the organization’s requirement that it’s leaders agree to and support the organizations beliefs as interpreted and applied by the organization, and to further the organizations mission. For the purposes of this policy, student organizations means a group officially recognized or registered by NIACC, or a group seeking official recognition or registration comprised of students who are admitted and in attendance at NIACC who receive or are seeking to receive benefits or privileges.
Public Forums on Campus-Freedom of Association
The outdoor areas of campus are deemed public forums. NIACC may maintain and enforce clear, published, reasonable viewpoint-neutral time, place, and manner restrictions that are narrowly tailored in the furtherance of a significant institutional interest, but shall allow members of the campus to engage in spontaneous expressive activity and to distribute literature. If NIACC places restrictions, it shall provide ample alternative means of expression.
Except as provided in this policy, and subject to the reasonable time, place, and manner restriction, NIACC shall not designate any are of campus a free speech zone or otherwise create policies restricting expressive activities to a particular outdoor are of campus.
Nothing in this policy shall be construed to grant individuals the right to engage in conduct that intentionally, material, and substantially disrupts the expressive activity of a person or student organization if NIACC has reserved space in an outdoor area of campus for the activity in accordance with this policy.
If a member of the campus community believes they have been aggrieved by a violation of this policy, they may file a complaint with the NIACC Board of Directors by contacting the President’s Office within one year after the day the cause of action accrues.