This year, Iowa State renamed the area known as the "free speech zone" to Agora, a Greek word that means “public gathering place.”
This change was decided because of the misinterpretation of the "free speech zone."
The name Free Speech Zone implies that there are only certain zones for free speech even though it is allowed through all of campus, said Cole Staudt, student body president, in an interview with the Daily early August.
“We had some students come to Student Government, led by Senator Robert Dunn,” Staudt said. “He talked about free speech and how the free speech zone limited campus, but we don’t have free speech zones; the entire campus is free expression.”
Because of this confusion, Student Government considered getting rid of a title altogether, but they knew students would always define that space as something, thus they coined the term “Agora.”
“In ancient Greece, the Agora was the center of the community where people would come to exchange ideas and debate things,” Staudt said. “We want people to share their ideas and debate things there.”
The areas where this change in name occurs are the west and south areas of the Hub and the grassy area south of the Campanile.
If the area wasn’t renamed, students would always call it the "free speech zone" even though it is technically named the Edward S. Allen Area of Free Debate.
Since the title "free speech zone" is so well known, Staudt has come up with some ideas to implement the name change.
“As we bring in students and they go on tours, our tour guides will call it the Agora,” he said. “When we tweet out things and see someone say "free speech zone," we’ll say ‘Hey no, it’s the Agora.’”
He knows it will be a slow process, and it won’t be perfect, but it will be better than allowing students to think they only have the right to freedom of speech in certain areas of campus.
According to ISU’s Policy Library, any member of the university community or the public may use any outdoor areas for expression without giving prior notice.
“You can’t be blocking traffic, which makes sense. You can’t be disrupting classes, which makes sense,” Staudt said. “If you want to go stand out on Central Campus, go out and stand out on Central Campus.”
The free speech policy was also clarified this year to make it easier to understand. Student Government changed the wording and reordered the paragraphs so the most important pieces of information were at the top.
Some regulations in the policy for free speech include allowing 50 or fewer people to assemble at a time, events occurring between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., not impeding walkways or access to buildings, using electrically amplified equipment, and more.
If a student or organization cannot meet the criteria of an event, then it is considered a public event that requires approval.