Identity of Speakers
Jacob Johnson is a graduate student in the Occupational and Environmental Health department of the University of Iowa's College of Public Health
Incident Political Orientation:
University investigation not issuing in sanctions
Faculty responses (e.g., asking student to leave classroom)
- Did not involve Speech Codes
According to internal investigation documents, in September 2021, a group of students emailed Patrick O’Shaughnessy, the director of graduate studies at the College of Public Health, alleging that Johnson told students they were “immoral” for not having the same religious beliefs, that these remarks were motivated by homophobia, and that they created a hostile learning environment. In consultation with the associate dean of academic affairs and Johnson’s department head, O’Shaughnessy raised these issues with Johnson in a meeting. In a later email to Johnson, O’Shaughnessy wrote that there would be a “zero tolerance policy” for such remarks going forward, and that if another incident occurred, Johnson would have to meet with the associate dean. Johnson filed an ethics complaint against O’Shaughnessy, the associate dean, and the department head in November with assistance from Kirkwood Institute, a conservative public-interest law firm. The subsequent internal investigation concluded that O’Shaughnessy failed to properly investigate the complaints against Johnson and that threatening consequences to Johnson violated his free speech rights, and that the associate dean and department head also violated policy because they supported O’Shaughnessy’s approach.