A professor at Iowa State University has come under fire for threatening to discipline students who submit projects or papers opposing abortion, the Black Lives Matter movement or same-sex marriage.
The threat was made in the professor’s English 250 syllabus, which was posted online and released by the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) on Monday. The conservative group said a “whistleblower” tipped them off about the threat.
In the syllabus, the professor says the course’s goal is to help students “develop skills in written, oral, visual, and electronic communication.”
It also includes a “GIANT WARNING” for students: “Any instances of othering that you participate in intentionally (racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, sorophobia, transphobia, classism, mocking of mental health issues, body shaming, etc) in class are grounds for dismissal from the classroom,” the syllabus read.
“The same goes for any papers/projects: you cannot choose any topic that takes at its base that one side doesn’t deserve the same basic human rights as you do (ie: no arguments against gay marriage, abortion, Black Lives Matter, etc). I take this seriously.”
Spencer Brown, YAF spokesman, characterized the warning as “profoundly anti-intellectual as well as unconstitutional.”
“Higher learning ought to be about diversity of thought and the free and open exchange of ideas, not an echo chamber where those who engage in subjectively-defined ‘wrong think’ are dismissed from class,” he said.
In a statement to CNN, the university said it took immediate “corrective action” and amended the syllabus. It did not name the professor.
“Iowa State University is committed to a learning environment where ideas and perspectives can be freely expressed and debated. The syllabus as originally written did not comply with the university’s policies or values. Corrective action to revise the syllabus was taken on Monday, August 17, which was the first day of the fall semester, as soon as this issue came to our attention,” the statement said.
The university added that it has since provided faculty members with “guidance on First Amendment protections for student expression in the classroom.”