Editorial: Chalking should exist on Iowa State Campus


Picasa 2.7

The Iowa State Daily Editorial Board believes that the new chalking policy put in place at Iowa State is an infringement on the First Amendment right of free speech. 

Editorial Board

Iowa State recently adopted yet another new chalking policy. The new policy prohibits chalking in a variety of locations including the “historical quad space” otherwise known as Central Campus. “Historical?” you ask. Yes! The sidewalks on Central Campus are apparently historical.

The new chalking policy is a clear and blatant infringement of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. Unfortunately, we (the students) did this to ourselves. Not a single senator we elected to represent us objected to Senate Resolution 48, which recommended that the “University enforce a permanent policy limiting chalking on campus.”

They had the opportunity to tell the university that the student body values free speech. They could have recommended that the university remove all limits on chalking except for those that align with federal and state laws. Instead they encouraged the university to further diminish our rights as American citizens. 

Some of those same senators are now running for president and vice president.

The new policy illustrates that Iowa State does not view chalking and free speech as equivalent. You are permitted to speak freely all around campus, not just the “free speech zone” in front of Parks Library, but you are not permitted to chalk freely around campus. Why?

Another section of the policy prohibits “Overwriting, erasing, defacing, or altering existing chalking.” This is an equal infringement on the First Amendment. If a student comes across a phrase he or she disagrees with, he or she should be allowed to freely express him or herself by chalking over or washing off the existing chalked message. The point of chalk is that it’s temporary, and that eventually rain or snow or water will wash it away, so what’s the point of prohibiting discussion on sidewalks?

Consider the ramifications of this policy. Today, Iowa State says you can’t chalk in areas A, B and C. Tomorrow they’ll ban chalking in D-Y, and just like that, chalking will be all but gone.

To be clear, the Iowa State Daily Editorial Board does not condone the extremely hurtful chalking that lead to this new policy and encourages all students to chalk with the idea of productive discourse.

Chalking is a way to use your freedom of speech, and they should exist on Iowa State’s campus in the same form. The options are all or nothing. Either the university lets students speak and chalk anything, anywhere (within the confines of state and federal laws, which limit free speech but have been approved by the Supreme Court) or eventually, there will be no chalking nor free speech at Iowa State.