Iowa State Tells Students To Piss Off And Continues Its New Trademark Policy Despite Their Concerns

from the IS-R-U-kidding-me? dept

We've been discussing Iowa State University's bold attempt to twist itself into a knot over its trademark policy for some time now. This all started when the school attempted to bow at the alter of certain Iowa state government reps to disallow a pro-marijuana alumni student group from using school iconography. For its efforts, the alumni student group beat the school in court on First Amendment grounds, eventually resulting in a $600k judgement against the school. Rather than learning its lesson, the school reacted to all of this by rewriting its trademark policy for student groups, pulling back permission of all kinds for groups to use the school's name and symbols. This, predictably, led to a full on revolt by students, with all kinds of groups refusing to associate themselves with the school at all. The student government, meanwhile, pointed out that the policy was written with zero input from students or student representatives.

In other words, ISU managed to piss off its own students by trying for iron grip control for... reasons?

With the revolt in full swing, you might have thought that perhaps this would be the thing that caused ISU to wake up and reverse course. Noooooooope. Instead, the school's administration simply penned what reads like a canned letter to its students about the trademark policy, explaining its reasoning for doing whatever the fuck it wants and brushing student concerns aside.

“Thank you for your interest and concern regarding the recently modified Guidelines for University Trademark Use by Student and Campus Organizations (Guidelines),” the opening of the letter sent by the university trademark office reads. “We value your input as representatives of the student body.”

The letter explains the purpose, process and means through which the policy was implemented, going through the Trademark Advisory Committee (TAC) of which one current member of Student Government was present.

The letter did promise to expand the TAC to include more student representation, but that pledge is little more than tripe given that the policy has already been written and put into practice as of the first semester of school. On top of that, a big part of the frustration on the part of students has been the school's nonstop claim that the policy change had nothing to do with the court battle it recently lost, whereas the letter admits that it was.

Whereas University Counsel Michael Norton had said the court case between the Iowa State chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’ (NORML) and the university had nothing to do with the implementation of the policy at a Student Government meeting in August, the letter said the policy was “certainly influenced” by court cases across the country, including the NORML lawsuit.

“It seems to have made student organizations more angry, it is getting worse not better,” Woodruff said. “The university still hasn’t apologized for their miscommunication, they still haven’t claimed any responsibility … This response is more of the same, telling students they are just associated with the university. We aren’t associated with the university, we are the university.”

Frankly, you would think the school would want to boast of a robust student organization landscape. That's one of the draws in campus life that brings students in. Prospective students as of this moment, however, have to be scratching their heads wondering why the school is in some stupid, needless intellectual property war with its own students.

And, honestly, why at every turn in this saga of stupid, Iowa State has managed to do exactly the wrong thing.

Filed Under: alumni, students, trademark
Companies: iowa state


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  • identicon
    Christenson, 11 Dec 2018 @ 9:17pm

    ISU Aerospace....

    Do the Wright Thing! lol

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2018 @ 9:47pm

    Sorry, kids

    We aren’t associated with the university, we are the university.

    Sorry, but that's not so. You're a part of the university. The part that pays tuition.

    Unless you, the speaker, and a significant portion of your fellows stop being that part of the university, the other parts are unlikely to pay much attention to you.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2018 @ 2:27am

      Re: Sorry, kids

      By your reasoning, a citizen job is to pay taxes, and have no input into the political process.

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

      • identicon
        Smartassicus the Roman, 12 Dec 2018 @ 9:07pm

        Re: Re: Sorry, kids

        Nope. False dichotomy fallacy.
        The kids aren't forced to attend that school, which is a business. If you don't like the way the business is treating you, go somewhere else.

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

      • identicon
        Châu, 15 Dec 2018 @ 3:32am

        Re: Re: Sorry, kids

        Give citizens input in political process is next level higher of democracy.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Dec 2018 @ 9:50pm

    Bad Lawyers give bad advice

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

  • identicon
    bad management and bad people, 11 Dec 2018 @ 10:14pm

    bad people and bad attitudes

    attitudes are bad so are management

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

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 12 Dec 2018 @ 1:56am

    School rules and associates

    Many university rules and bylaws are written with the understanding that students and faculty are both members of the university, and so are equally bound by internal regulations.

    This is one of the ways state-operated universities can ban students from possessing guns on campus even though no other government agency can enact such a ban -- students are considered by the courts to be a form of employee of the school, and employers can have rules like that for employee conduct.

    But if the students are merely associated with the school rather than a part of it, that sort of argument falls apart.

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

    • identicon
      Shawn, 12 Dec 2018 @ 3:41am

      Re: School rules and associates

      In Oklahoma, an employer can prohibit firearms from being carried by ccw's. however they can not prevent weapons from being legally stored in personal vehicles in the parking lots.

      I am not sure how it works for the schools and colleges however.

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

      • icon
        tom (profile), 12 Dec 2018 @ 3:17pm

        Re: Re: School rules and associates

        The last I read, you could have your weapon in your car while on campus but not on your person. Lets the commuters carry while traveling to/from campus. Hard to keep up, the legi-critters make frequent changes.

        Maybe the ISU student association should develop its own Logo, trademark it and use it exclusively for all student scheduled activities.

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

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 12 Dec 2018 @ 8:31am

      Re: School rules and associates

      Id be interested to understand how they get around the idea that the student is paying to be an employee.

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

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  • identicon
    Glenn, 12 Dec 2018 @ 6:05am

    Attending college doesn't actually make you smarter, just better informed if you're lucky (and work at it). Working at a college--as in, part of the administration--doesn't require any "smarts" at all, as we see here.

    I wonder though... what do these admin folk have against alumni expressing their Constitutionally-protected views? Do they have something against marijuana specifically** (which launched this particular brain-dead behavior)? Inquiring minds want to know!

    **maybe getting a little "mellow" would help 'em out...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Dec 2018 @ 6:05am

    Another easy fix:
    ISU will respond when asked to in the correct context, that context is money (as it always is).

    Alumni groups cut off funds....students withdraw and don't re-enroll...

    It's a financially backed university, change them financially.

    I mean ISU? surly there are more exciting schools to attend.

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

  • identicon
    Russ K, 12 Dec 2018 @ 7:45am

    Students are temporary

    My experience at college is that the staff and administration view students as simply stopping by and spending their $$. They will go away in a few years and we simply have to wait them out until they graduate.

    Policies are implemented to benefit the staff and admin. with just enough giveaways to students to keep them from revolt. Just my experience...

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

  • identicon
    Andy, 12 Dec 2018 @ 2:20pm

    Easy Solution!

    Approach other schools in the area and ask if they can use there name and then instead of promoting the university they are learning at promote the nearest competitor, i am sure within days the school would suddenly back down and allow the kids to promote there university instead of the competition.

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

  • identicon
    Chuck, 13 Dec 2018 @ 8:19pm

    Re Iowa State Stupidity

    >This response is more of the same, telling students they are just associated with the university. We aren’t associated with the university, we are the university

    That's because the Administration views students as a source of funds and wants to do nothing other than advance their individual careers.

    The only care about their graduation rate enough to protect their reputation.

    They don't give a fuck about quality, quality costs a lot of money.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2018 @ 9:54am

    Funny, when my kids were looking at colleges, there would be open house days and a big draw would be the various student groups and clubs. Typically there are little kiosks explaining what the purpose of the various groups is. The schools all made a big deal out of this, as I'm sure it's a way to attract students to the school. Look at all the great student activities we have!

    I would think that one open house with all the clubs/groups ganging together to put out a negative image of the school would be enough to have the administration rethinking it's approach.

    I mean, what are they going to do? Have an open house with no student groups/clubs/activities? That won't make them look very good compared to the competition...

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


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