Iowa State University’s First Amendment Days focuses on protest April 12-16

CATEGORIES: First Amendment, News


Iowa State University’s First Amendment Days offers attendees an annual opportunity to celebrate their First Amendment rights. This year, the celebration is virtual with a full lineup of online lectures and events April 12-16. All events are free and open to the public.

Now in its 19th year, First Amendment Days educates the Iowa State community about the First Amendment’s five freedoms of speech, press, petition, assembly, and religion. The week is organized by the First Amendment Committee, which includes members from the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, the Iowa State Daily and student volunteers.

With a theme of “Some Assembly Required,” First Amendment Days 2021 will focus on the power of protest.

Julie Roosa, chair of the committee and adjunct assistant professor and First Amendment Specialist in the Greenlee School, said the theme was selected for the 2020 celebration, which was postponed because of the pandemic. However, current events have shown it is as relevant as ever a year later.

“When we gather together for a shared cause, whether in small groups or large, we generate the power to create change. Examples are found throughout our history and still to this day. The freedom to peaceably assemble is sometimes not thought of on equal footing with the freedom to speak and to write. But all of the five freedoms of the First Amendment are equally important. You can’t have one without the others. They all work together. We are happy that this year’s First Amendment Days gives the freedom to peaceably assemble its due, even as we find ways to gather virtually this year,” Roosa said.

A few events are highlighted below. See the full schedule on the Greenlee School’s website.

  • Nadine Strossen is a Professor of Constitutional Law at New York Law School and the first woman national President of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she served from 1991 through 2008. Strossen’s lecture, “Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship,” is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 14. This event is co-sponsored with the Committee on Lectures, which is funded by Student Government.
  • Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri, who was recently acquitted of all charges in a trial stemming from her arrest while covering a Black Lives Matter protest last summer, will present “Think Like a Journalist: Arrested on the Job” at noon Thursday, April 15. Several other Depth and Dialogue sessions will take place Tuesday and Thursday.
  • New this year, the First Amendment Days Pet Film Competition invited students to submit 60-second videos of their pets demonstrating one of the First Amendment freedoms. Online voting takes place through April 9. Winners will be announced at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 15.
  • Maribeth Romslo, director and producer of the recently released documentary “Raise Your Voice,” and Mary Beth Tinker, a First Amendment advocate, will lead live discussions online at 1 p.m. and online at 2 p.m. Friday, April 16, with high school and Iowa State students. The sessions will explore the power of social movements through youth free speech in America. “Raise Your Voice” spotlights student journalists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School following the mass shooting at their school; a streaming link to view the documentary through April 21 is also available.

Find more information about First Amendment Days. For more information, contact Julie Roosa,