Letter to the Editor | We need First Amendment training

First Amendment rights on the University of Iowa campus have been violated.

A+gavel+and+a+document+outlying+the+First+Amendment+are+pictured.

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A gavel and a document outlying the First Amendment are pictured.


Recently, *The Daily Iowan* sat down with University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson to discuss, among other things, her thoughts on the new mandatory Freedom of Speech training on campus. Wilson was quoted as praising the training by saying it reminds us “what our efforts should be around encouraging open dialogue, even if it’s sometimes hurtful and difficult and involves conflict.”

Further,Wilson said that there will exist a tension “between the legal underpinnings of the First Amendment” and “our ability to make sure people feel like they belong here [on campus].”

The DI editorial board did not share Wilson’s praise for the new training, and instead took it as an opportunity to attack Iowa Republicans’ “hypocritical” free speech platform. Lumping recent university and statewide events together into one piece, the editorial board decried Republicans for taking a “freedom of speech for me, but not for thee” stance. This includes mandatory training.

However, those close to what has happened at the College of Dentistry and the College of Public Health understand that this is hardly the case. The new Freedom of Speech training is about the First Amendment because First Amendment rights on campus have been violated. Both details of these two cases are public knowledge and uniquely hit on the tension Wilson mentioned.

Instead of exploring this tension or doing a myriad of other things in the spirit of honest journalistic inquiry, the editorial board squandered an opportunity to use its voice by simply blaming Republicans. In other words, the board did nothing in its editorial to lead readers into open dialogue with alternate viewpoints. This makes me believe that though the First Amendment is “plastered on the wall of [their] newsroom,” the DI editorial board needs a refresher like all of us, too.

-Jacob Olson, Iowa City resident


 

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