Chalking on Campus

Effective: February 17, 2020
Contact: Office of General Counsel


Iowa State University recognizes that chalking of sidewalks 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. This policy applies to all university students, staff, faculty, affiliates, and visitors.

Policy Statement

Permissible Chalking

Chalking on campus sidewalks is permitted subject to the specific restrictions detailed in this policy.

Restrictions on Chalking

  • Chalking is limited to the use of water-soluble chalk (sidewalk chalk). The use of markers, paints, oil-based products, non-soluble products, and spray chalks are prohibited.
  • Chalking is permitted only on horizontal (flat) sidewalks that are open to the elements (i.e., sidewalk that is not covered by a roof or overhang). Chalking is prohibited on all vertical surfaces and all non-sidewalk surfaces, both inside and outside, including benches, buildings, bus stops, bridges, columns, fountains, monuments, newsstands, overhangs, planters, poles, roads, rocks, signs, statues, stairs/steps, trash receptacles, trees, walls, and windows. 
  • Chalking is not allowed in any of the following areas:
    • Within the Memorial Union plaza and memorial space. Memorial Union plaza and memorial space is defined as the plaza and memorial space south of Union Drive extending to the north Memorial Union entrance and the sidewalk space immediately in front of the south Memorial Union entrance. 
    • Within the historical quad space. The historical quad space is defined as the campus area within the following geographical boundary: the plaza area south of MacKay Hall (north border); Union Drive (south border); Morrill Road (west border); the sidewalk running immediately west of Curtiss Hall (east border). See Resources below for a campus map illustrating these spaces. 
    • Within the Anderson Sculpture Garden, the George Washington Carver Plaza, National Pan-Hellenic Council Plaza, and the Knoll.
    • Within “areas outside health care facilities including both stand-alone facilities and mixed-use facilities that are embedded within another facility, veterinary medicine facilities, a facility or outdoor area used by the institution’s athletics program or teams, or other outdoor areas where access is restricted to a majority of the campus community.” See Iowa Code Chapter 261H.1(4). 

See Resources below for a campus map illustrating these prohibited locations.

  • Overwriting, erasing, defacing, or altering existing chalking is prohibited by anyone other than the person or organization who did the chalking, except that university facility and grounds personnel are allowed to clean and wash sidewalks, plazas, and other outdoor areas at any time in the course of their usual and ordinary campus maintenance activities.
  • Chalking that violates any federal or state law, the Iowa State University Student Code of Conduct, or any other policy of Iowa State University as contained in the Iowa State University Policy Library is prohibited.
  • Commercial solicitation, advertising and sales, including through chalking, are not permitted on campus except as explicitly permitted by IAC 681-13.15.