Labeled a “GIANT WARNING,” the portion of the syllabus banned “instances of othering,” which it defined as “sexism, ableism, homophobia,” and a variety of other things. “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 (ie: no arguments against gay marriage, abortion, Black Lives Matter, etc). I take this seriously,” it added.
Young Americans Foundation, a conservative youth organization, released a screenshot of the syllabus on Monday, claiming that it came from a professor named Chloe Clark. According to Iowa State’s website, the course, English 250, is for “written, oral, visual, and electronic composition.” The course is required as part of students’ “Communication Proficiency” requirement for graduation.
In a statement to Fox News, the university described the syllabus as “inconsistent” with its commitment to the First Amendment.
“The syllabus statement as written was inconsistent with the university’s standards and its commitment to the First Amendment rights of students,” a statement from the taxpayer-funded university read.
“After reviewing this issue with the faculty member, the syllabus has been corrected to ensure it is consistent with university policy. Moreover, the faculty member is being provided additional information regarding the First Amendment policies of the university.”
It added: “Iowa State is firmly committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of its students, faculty, and staff. 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.”
The Black Lives Matter movement began in the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed African American teenager Trayvon Martin in July 2013. The three Black women who first used the hashtag on social media later expanded their effort into a network of local Black Lives Matter chapters. However, the broader movement against police brutality and systemic racism — which reignited after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis — is decentralized and larger than those chapters.
Iowa State University has promoted the organization. After George Floyd’s death, the dean issued a “Black Lives Matter” statement that pledged “a critical examination of our own policies and practices, from classroom teaching to faculty and staff recruitment, to ensure that they are truly equitable.”