Proposal would relax chalking rules, with some areas off-limits

A proposed policy change would permit sidewalk chalking on much of campus but prohibit it on a portion of central campus and in a handful of other specific areas, replacing an interim policy adopted in November that restricts who can chalk sidewalks and what they can write.  

The draft policy would forbid writing messages in chalk on sidewalks in the historical campus quad, defined as the area bordered by Osborn and Union drives, Morrill Road and Farmhouse Lane. The restriction also would apply at the Anderson Sculpture Garden, the plazas north of Carver Hall and the Memorial Union, The Knoll and near standalone and mixed-use health care facilities. The draft policy includes a map highlighting areas where sidewalk chalking wouldn't be allowed.

The policy -- which would apply to students, employees and visitors -- states that Iowa State recognizes chalking "is a way to announce programs, promote events, exchange opinions, share messages, and otherwise express ideas. This policy is designed to permit sidewalk chalking while also advancing important university interests, including but not limited to ensuring campus safety, safeguarding entrances and exits to and from university facilities, protecting university property and facilities, and maintaining the aesthetic appeal of campus."

Only water-soluble chalk would be allowed for sidewalk writing, which would be limited to horizontal sidewalks not covered by a roof or overhang. Steps, roads, bridges, monuments, fountains and all other non-sidewalk surfaces would be off-limits. Chalking that violates other university policies, the student code of conduct, or state or federal laws would not be allowed.

Overwriting, erasing, defacing or altering existing chalk messages would be prohibited, except by the person or organization responsible for the chalking or facilities staff cleaning and washing sidewalks in the course of usual and ordinary maintenance.

Under the interim policy put in place Nov. 11 and still in effect, chalking on campus is restricted to registered student organizations publicizing an upcoming event open to all students. Chalk messages must include -- and are limited to -- the event title (seven words or less), location and time, and name of the sponsoring organization. Before the interim policy, Iowa State didn't have a policy with specific chalking provisions. The interim policy was prompted by an increasing volume of sidewalk chalking on campus.

Feedback on the draft policy will be accepted through Feb. 5. Email questions and comments to