Freedom of speech and expression is a protected constitutional right, but more and more, student activists have crossed the line of civility and decency when it comes to expressing their freedom of speech. The recent protest at an Iowa Board of Regents meeting demonstrated the growing incivility of the progressive Left.
The Iowa Board of Regents met in Urbandale, Iowa to go over issues facing the state’s public universities and colleges, but were met with student protesters during the afternoon portion of their meeting. The protesters shouted “loud chants, songs, personal stories and demands for a tuition freeze — pleading for a response, “Yes or no, will you implement a tuition freeze?”” The protesters also demanded more state funding of the state universities.
The board had only recently returned from a 45-minute lunch break, only to be meet with loud protesters. Before lunch, the scheduled comment period featured several comments from meeting attendees.
One of the local state newspapers, The Gazette, reported that none of the regents who were present responded to the protesters. The reason behind the lack of response was that the tuition freeze demand was no on the board’s agenda and the protesters arrived after the appointed comment period. The comment period was scheduled for the beginning of the meeting, not when the protesters arrived and began to shout.
At least two of the regents, Executive Director Mark Braun and Board of Regents President Mike Richards tried to coordinate a discussion at a future time and date with the protesters, but to no avail. The protesters demanded that the board talk to them during the meeting, even though the comment period was over before the protesters arrived. The board adjourned an hour early due to the protest.
State law binds regents to “only items outlined on their previously released agenda — and issues central to the student concerns weren’t on this week’s agenda,” according to Braun. The student protesters failed to recognize the legal constraints facing the board members, which Braun said, “To engage in conversation about this and deliberate is committing a violation of the Open Meetings law.”
The protesters also barked up the wrong tree regarding tuition freezes. As Richards said, the state legislature has power and control over state funding and not the Board of Regents. University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld said that protesters “can’t have it both ways” if they demand a tuition freeze along with more campus programming. He told The Gazette, “Somehow, those things need to get balanced.”
Interrupting a board meeting is another tactic meant to bully administrators into submission. Although this specific protest failed, it could spell further similar protests in the future in other parts of the country. The progressive Left has taken student protests to a new level, without thinking of the consequences of their actions.