Letter: A salute to the students who used First Amendment, Principles of Community to negate hate


Attendees of Nicholas Fuentes’s speech ask questions and debate during a Q&A portion at the Free Speech Zone at Iowa State University on Wednesday, March 6.

Martino Harmon

On March 6, a white nationalist speaker came to Iowa State University.

This letter is not specifically about the speaker, but about the Iowa State Principles of Community that were demonstrated by our students.

That evening, I personally witnessed several Principles of Community in action. Students in attendance listened to messages that were hateful, divisive, hurtful and counter to the Iowa State Principles of freedom from discrimination, respect for others and appreciation of diversity and inclusion.

Despite the hateful messages, the students listened, and when given the opportunity, they exercised their right to provide direct and honest expression of their ideas with vigor and passion. Iowa State students provided a great example of how one can express their own ideas in a respectful manner even in the face of hate.

The First Amendment allows for expression of all ideas, and any public university must support the First Amendment. This is even in cases where it is counter to what we value and believe as a university. Students in this case exercised their right to freedom of expression, courageously challenged the speaker and appropriately dispersed when they determined it was time to shut the event down leaving the speaker without an audience.

I want to salute the students who appropriately challenged views they did not believe in, and for demonstrating the Iowa State Principles of Community.