AMES, Iowa — An English professor at Iowa State University, who had initially included a “giant warning” in her syllabus that students were not permitted to speak or submit classwork presenting “arguments against gay marriage, abortion, Black Lives Matter, etc.,” has now amended her course description after university officials found her restrictions to be “inconsistent” with the school’s commitment to upholding students’ First Amendment rights.
According to The College Fix, Chloe Clark issued a “giant warning” — written in all capital letters — as a note under the course objective of her English 250 class.
“This class will include many discussions about [presenting arguments] and, thus, participation will be a large factor in the class,” the webpage for the class outlined. “Any instances of othering that you participate in intentionally (racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, sorophobia, transphobia, classism, mocking of mental health issues, body shaming, etc) in class are grounds for dismissal from the classroom.”
It added, “The same goes for any papers/projects: You cannot choose any topic that takes at its base that one side doesn’t deserve the same basic human rights as you do. I take this seriously.”
After the matter made headlines, the university reportedly addressed Clark about the matter as they believe students should have the right to express all viewpoints, as the U.S. Constitution grants freedom of speech.
“The syllabus statement as written was inconsistent with the university’s standards and its commitment to the First Amendment rights of students,” Iowa State officials said in a statement issued to reporters on Monday.
They advised that the syllabus has now been “corrected to ensure it is consistent with university policy” and Clark “is being provided additional information regarding the First Amendment policies of the university.”
“Iowa State is firmly committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of its students, faculty, and staff,” the statement said. “With respect to student expression in the classroom, including the completion of assignments, the university does not take disciplinary action against students based on the content or viewpoints expressed in their speech.”
As previously reported, in 2013, a professor at Florida Atlantic University came under scrutiny after he had Intercultural Communications students write the name “Jesus” in all capital letters on a piece of paper and then stomp on it. The exercise was obtained from an instruction manual and was meant to demonstrate the “emotional meaning” behind various symbols as some students will decline to do so.
“This exercise is a bit sensitive, but really drives home the point that even though symbols are arbitrary, they take on very strong and emotional meanings,” the manual stated. “Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper. Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment.”
“After a brief period of silence, instruct them to step on the paper,” it continued. “Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.”
The professor, Deandre Poole, the vice-chairman of the Palm Beach Democratic Party, was put on leave for a time due to security reasons and later reinstated. It was vowed that the exercise would never be performed again.