ISU President Strives to Increase Free Speech

By By U Wire

By U Wire

AMES, Iowa?Iowa State University may be a step closer to expanding its freedom of speech after President Gregory Geoffroy announced a proposal to allow broader use of university grounds and facilities by students, staff, faculty and the general public.

Geoffroy is seeking student input on the new policy, which would allow most campus grounds and facilities to be used by the noncommercial public without applying for prior permission. Current policy requires university approval for activities held anywhere on campus except public-forum areas.

?Anyone who has been at Iowa State the last five years knows there are certain groups on campus really concerned about this,? said Paul Tanaka, director of University Legal Services. ?I think the proposal addresses their concerns, but at the same time, we need time to adjust and to provide protection so it does not disrupt university activities.?

Tanaka said Geoffroy has discussed the issue of free speech since taking office in July.

?He certainly reviewed the concerns and indicated this is a priority for him,? Tanaka said. ?He?s also encouraged this to really open the university.?

Herman Quirmbach, adviser for the ISU chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said he agrees with opening the campus to the public.

?I would be happy to consider any expansion of free speech on campus,? said Quirmbach, associate professor of economics. ?I have felt the prior administration took a backward approach to the issue. The action that needs justification is where free speech is limited, not where it is allowed.?

Geoffroy is seeking comments on the proposed policy, Tanaka said.

?Once the comments come in, they?ll be reviewed, and then a final decision will be made,? he said. ?If it is sound enough to move forward, we?ll have to make changes to policies. When all is said and done, it will probably go into effect in Fall 2002.?

Ben Stone, executive director of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, said he supports the elimination of free speech zones.

?I don’t know much about the proposal, but the ICLU has always been against free speech zones,? said Stone, an ISU alumnus. ?It?s long overdue that they get rid of free speech zones and open up the entire campus.?