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Iowa State Students Make Demands Over School Trademark Policy Public, Plan Possible First Amendment Lawsuit

from the go-cyclones! dept

Iowa State University just cannot stop shooting itself in the foot. After attempting to bully a pro-marijuana student organization out of using school iconography, the school both lost the lawsuit that came afterwards and managed to piss away nearly half a million dollars in taxpayer money in having to pay out the would-be victims of its bullying. Instead of learning its lesson after that whole episode, ISU instead decided to alter its trademark usage policy to be way more restrictive, which only pushed student organizations to drop references to the school en masse. At the same time, the student government issued a resolution demanding the school review its policy again and make it less restrictive. Administration officials at that time agreed to meet with the student government to hear their concerns.

Well, that meeting happened this past week, and everybody is still seriously pissed off.

Student organizations demonstrated their issues with Iowa State’s administration for its implementation of a new trademark policy at a meeting Thursday evening.  For the immediate future, Student Government wants an apology from the university and an immediate block on the enforcement of the policy. They have alternate plans of action if this deliberation works out poorly.

Woodruff, other members of Student Government and organization presidents agreed that acts of protest like wearing trademarked clothing and sending emails to university officials were encouraged. Student Government also talked to Student Legal Services regarding a possible lawsuit on using the First Amendment as a basis for suit.

For the second time in a couple of years, ISU might find itself the subject of a First Amendment lawsuit brought against it by its own students. Given its track record and the insane amount of money it had to pay out the last time, it would be flatly insane for the school to allow things to get the point of a lawsuit. But, then, this is ISU we're talking about.

One of the chief issues the student government has is that the administration apparently has tried to cut them out of the process at every turn.

One issue that Student Government had with the process is the lack of transparency. Woodruff said they have not been able to produce any documentation, including the email that was sent out to club organization presidents, Regent or Big 12 policies that may have prompted the new university measures. In addition to this, he said the meetings that the university had about this subject originally were not public and did not have any minutes recorded.

“Things are getting worse, not better,” Woodruff said. “This fuse is getting shorter and shorter.”

And that's not a good sign for the school, given the threat of a possible lawsuit on the horizon. Adding to much of the anger is that much of the iconography and mascot imagery the school uses, and is attempting to control through its trademark policy, were student creations from long ago. To turn the trademark policy like a gun on its own student groups could pretty much only lead to anger.

It's a full on mystery why the school doesn't just scrap this altogether and agree to work with its students on a sane trademark usage policy. Perhaps doing so would end this, ahem, cyclone of dissent.

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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 7 Nov 2018 @ 8:35pm

    Lesson Plan

    The only lesson the administrators learned was "Lawyer Harder."
    Which, like "Nerd Harder" isn't really a thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    MDT (profile), 7 Nov 2018 @ 9:33pm

    Makes sense to me...

    The school is the state university in Iowa, a 'swing' state that has a Republican Governor, Republican State Senate, and Republican State House. It's really only a swing state because the Federal Congressional Districts have enough suburbs in them to result in a 3-to-1 blue vs red result.

    The school is basically boned no matter what it does. If it doesn't fight 'evil marijuana' the conservative state government will make it's life hell. If it does fight it, it loses repeatedly in Federal Court for First Amendment violations. Plus, let's be honest, the school administration is almost certainly deeply red as well. Even if they aren't, the state purse strings are blood red so keep the politicians happy.

    Unfortunately, losing money fighting the Constitution doesn't get your funding cut, it gets it undewritten by the state to pay for the windmill tilting. However, failing to fight the Constitution WILL get your purse strings cut. So, it's not really hard to see why they're doubling down on stupidity.

    Disclosure : I'm a conservative leaning independent who gave up on the GOP when McCain died.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Nov 2018 @ 11:26pm

      Re: Makes sense to me...

      Yes, bureaucracy often dictates that it is better to do something stupid for which one cannot be fired than for exercising common sense which might or will get them fired.

      This is why TSA might detain someone for four hours over something stupid rather than let them on the plane and give their bosses a reason to discipline them.

      As for why we have bureaucracy, it's so workers can't hold the government or the employer hostage.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard M (profile), 8 Nov 2018 @ 5:34am

    Not Their Money...

    The administration is not paying this out of pocket, they will make up the lawsuit spending by raising student fees and/or getting more money from the state.

    Just like all the excessive force lawsuits. The cops do not care because it is not personally costing them anything.

    Think about your normal sociopathic 2 year old. If every time he/she did something bad and you punished someone else they would never learn good behavior. Think of the admin and cops as 2 year old toddlers and you are pretty close to the truth.

    There is no personal cost so why change?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Christenson, 8 Nov 2018 @ 10:12am

    ISU: The Wright Stuff

    The funniest T-shirt I have seen from ISU (and I was no closer than Indiana at the time) was emblazoned

    ISU Aerospace Engineering: The Wright Stuff

    With an image of Wile-E-Coyote and a kit from Acme.

    Seems that "right stuff" was taken entirely too seriously by the administration.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 9 Nov 2018 @ 12:15pm

    Are the students members of the university or not?

    When it comes to university policy, the administration of almost any university would insist that their students are members of the university -- they'd be hard pressed, after all, to claim students were subject to university rules and policies if the students weren't members.

    But then the school turns around and does something akin to what ISU is doing -- treating the students as if they were completely separate from the university.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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