Inside Iowa State
Aug. 29, 1997
Residence hall students get second shot at door decorating
by Steve Sullivan
For the first time in five years, students living in the residence halls may post material on their doors. A new policy, in effect for fall semester, allows students to post materials on their residence hall doors and creates a process to review materials that others consider offensive.
Since fall 1992, the residence department has prohibited any materials on the outside of residence hall room doors, except for cards that identify the students in a room. This policy was developed after students and staff complained that some posted materials were threatening and demeaning to people because of their racial background, sexual orientation or gender.
"The old policy created an environment that many felt repressed free speech," said Randy Alexander, director of residence. "With this new policy, we are working to create an environment in which diverse perspectives can be expressed. At the same time, there is an opportunity to discuss openly the rights and responsibilities our students have as citizens in a democracy."
Here's how the policy works:
The new door policy will be reviewed by the Inter-Residence Hall Association during fall semester. Unless a two-thirds majority of the association approves it, the policy expires at the end of fall semester.
- The members of each "house" (floor) in each residence hall will vote on whether to implement the new door policy.
- Any resident or staff member questioning the appropriateness of materials displayed on a resident's door may request that it be discussed at a house meeting. The discussion will include the person making the complaint, the resident who posted the material and other members of the house. House residents will take a non-binding vote on whether the material is offensive. If house members believe the material is offensive, the student who posted it will be asked to remove it.
- If the student declines to remove the material, house members may recommend that the residence department order its removal if the material violates a person's right to privacy, defames, violates the state's laws regarding pornography and obscenity, creates a sexually or racially hostile environment, or, as stated in the policy, "causes a reasonable person immediately to engage in violent action."
- If the residence department orders that material be removed, the student's choices are to remove the material or move out of the residence hall. Any order to remove material can be appealed to the vice president for student affairs.
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