Iowa State University

October 20, 1996

To the Community:

One of the most treasured aspects of a university campus is the freedom each of us has to freely and openly express our opinions and ideas--and to do so in an environment of civility and mutual respect. I'm becoming increasingly concerned that the current debate over the name of Carrie Chapman Catt Hall is causing a strain on this environment, and I believe we need to be reminded about just how important it is to do all we can to maintain this very special environment.

Several recent occurrences have caused me this concern. Handbills have been posted that are intended to be racially demeaning. There were attempts to disrupt a peaceful protest over the name of Catt Hall and abusive remarks were directed toward students involved in the protest. Threatening telephone calls have been made to individuals who have openly expressed their support for keeping the name of the building. And most recently, there was an assault on an African American student security officer by a group of individuals, an assault that included racial slurs.

I cherish our First Amendment freedom of speech rights, including the right to speech that is neither pleasant nor supportive in order to protect all speech. At the same time, however, I believe we, as members of this university community, have a responsibility to avoid speech and actions that are intended to make other members of our community feel threatened or less welcome on our campus simply because they express a different opinion or position.

I am calling on all members of the ISU community to affirm their commitment to free and open expression, to the rights of all of us to hold disparate views, and to helping make our community one of tolerance and civility. Open discussion and debate is important and valuable; I hope there are many such activities on many more topics. But those discussions and debates should remain civil and should demonstrate tolerance for all points of view for all individuals involved.


Martin C. Jischke

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Diana Pounds, University Relations,
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Revised 10/21/96