Another exciting event at the University of Iowa was our Free Speech Ball. Leading up to the event, the other members and I were quite nervous because we had had some pushback from the administration before the event even took place. They requested a meeting the day before the event after finally acknowledging our trigger letter. Abby Evans, the UI YAL chapter secretary came with me to take notes in this meeting between myself and three other administrators. The meeting ended up causing more problems for us because they denied that they had free speech zones—even though we are rated a yellow light school by thefire.org and my own personal experience with the same administration giving us grief for being outside of the zones during the Students for Rand days. Instead the administration likes to call these zones, ‘solicitation areas’, and with that they have an elaborate process for reserving these spaces—so we have to ask permission to have free speech? The other distinction they explained was that free speech is permitted everywhere on campus as long as it falls under casual use—which does not include when you have press releases—so now they are banning freedom of the press? Overall we were left with more questions than answers and cannot wait to reform our speech codes to a clearer, and liberty-minded code.
During the event we had lots of fun rolling our giant beach ball outside the speech zones and all over campus. Some students laughed, some took pictures, but we ended up with 250 signatures on our petition to reform the unconstitutional speech codes. My favorite memory from this event was a student asking if they could write ‘Black Lives Matter’ on our ball, “Of course you can!” I said. It was interesting seeing how some people had no clue what to write once they had complete freedom of speech. It is a sure sign that we need to save free speech on campus before it is too late!
Here is the link to the article that was done by the Daily Iowan on our event: