- Associated Press - Saturday, August 27, 2016

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - University of Iowa officials have revamped the university’s 6-year-old sidewalk chalk policy months after an anti-abortion group’s sidewalk art caused a stir.

The school already had a policy requiring chalked messages to advertise upcoming public events hosted by a recognized student organization. Under the new policy, student organizations must limit messages an event title capped at seven words, time, location and name of the organization, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported Friday (https://icp-c.com/2boywUA ).

That means no more catchy slogans, extra messages, overly-descriptive titles or artwork.

The change came after members of Students for Life drew thousands of hearts on a university walkway in April to represent what it said were the daily number of abortions in the U.S. When the hearts were power-washed away, questions were raised about why other chalked messages were allowed to remain.

The school allows chalking on only a handful of campus walkways, including the T. Anne Cleary walkway and three sidewalks that form the perimeter of Hubbard Park. The policy allows university employees to remove messages that include obscenities, profanity or “any message threatening individuals or groups of people to incite physical or psychological harm.”

Enforcement of the policy will remain complaint-driven, said Bill Nelson, director of the Iowa Memorial Union and the UI Center for Student Involvement and Leadership.

“We do not patrol the grounds examining chalked messages,” he said.

While the new policy further limits how student organizations can use chalk on campus walkways, some student leaders said the policy needed to be clarified so all chalked messages would be treated fairly.

“I absolutely see it as a way to protect free speech,” said Rachel Zuckerman, president of UI Student Government. “There are a lot of ways for students and student organizations to express their beliefs on campus. Chalking is only one way for students to advertise events.”


Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, https://www.press-citizen.com/

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