Iowa State University


Randy Alexander, Residence, (515) 294-5636
Steve Sullivan, News Service, (515) 294-3730


AMES, Iowa -- For the first time in five years, students living in Iowa State's residence halls may have the opportunity to post material on their doors.

Since the fall of 1992, Iowa State's residence department has prohibited the posting of any materials on the outside of residence hall room doors, with the exception of a card with basic information that identifies the students in a room. This policy was developed after students and staff complained that some materials being posted were found to be threatening or offensive. The materials included cartoons, pictures and slogans considered threatening and demeaning toward people because of their racial background, sexual orientation or gender.

Since 1992, the door policy has been reviewed several times by committees of students, residence hall personnel and other university officials. The new policy, which was recently approved by a committee and university administrators, goes into effect this fall. It will allow students to post materials on their residence hall doors, and creates a process for review of materials that others consider potentially offensive.

"The old policy created an environment that many felt repressed free speech. With this new policy, we are working to create an environment in which diverse perspectives can be expressed. At the same time, there is an opportunity to openly discuss the rights and responsibilities our

students have as citizens in a democracy," said Randy Alexander, director of residence. "The door policy is a complicated issue, but our students wanted it reviewed and there was a lot of support for change. Our expectation is that students will discuss their differences of opinion with grace and civility."

Floors in the Iowa State residence halls are called "houses." Each house in each residence hall will vote on whether or not to implement the new door policy. Houses now vote individually on such issues as quiet hours and visitation times.

Any resident or staff member questioning the appropriateness of materials displayed on a resident's door may request that the issue be brought up for discussion at either a regular or special house meeting. The materials will be discussed by the resident making the complaint, the resident who posted the material and other members of the house. Following the discussion, house residents will take a non-binding vote on whether the material is offensive. If the house believes the material to be offensive, the student who posted it will be asked to remove it.

If the student declines to remove the material, a house may recommend that the department of residence insist on its removal if the material a person's right to privacy; defames; violates the state's laws regarding pornography and obscenity; creates a sexually or racially hostile environment; or, as stated in the policy, "cause a reasonable person immediately to engage in violent action."

If residence administrators find that any of the criteria are met, the resident posting the material may be ordered to remove the material. The resident also will have the choice of moving out of the residence hall. Any decision to order removal of material can be appealed to the vice president for student affairs.

The new door policy will be reviewed by the Inter-Residence Hall Association prior to the end of fall semester. It will expire at the end of the fall semester unless approved by a two-thirds vote of the IRHA.


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