Statement from Iowa State University regarding professor Thomas Leslie:
Employees’ social media posts, when they reference specific employment actions and duties, are generally not protected personal speech. In this case, the instructor’s Facebook post also went directly against guidance issued by the Senior Vice President and Provost on August 10, which stated that instructors “may not penalize or criticize students for not wearing face masks.”
As a result of the suggestion that punitive actions may be taken based on students’ personal choices with regard to mask wearing, Iowa State University has taken several steps to protect students in the instructor’s classes. These include relieving the faculty member from instructional duties for the remainder of the fall semester and assigning replacement work; reviewing appropriate university policies and sections of the Faculty Handbook; and requiring additional training.