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.