Student representatives told to ‘go home’ at Senate subcommittee hearing


Photo: Karuna Ang/Iowa State Daily

Chip Baltimore, state representative, talks to a group of University of Iowa students about the budget cuts Monday at the Iowa State Capitol.

Ben Theobald

A group of students from all three regents universities visited the state Capitol on Monday to speak about potential budget cuts. However, they were told by Sen. Shawn Hammerlinck (R-Dixon) to “go home.”

The Iowa Senate Democrats launched the first of five hearings on Monday. There were key differences in the budgets proposed by the House and the Senate.

David Miles, president of the Board of Regents, along with student representatives from the three regents institutions, came to testify about what would happen if the House version of the budget passed instead of the Senate version.

“It was nice that somebody asked us to come to talk about what a seven percent cut, a $41 million cut, how that would affect the students of those universities,” said Jared Knight, vice president of the Government of the Student Body. “We were happy that somebody asked us to talk about that.”

After the student representatives were finished, Hammerlinck gave a response. Hammerlinck told students to “go home” and that they were being used as props in the Democratic propaganda effort to increase state spending.

“We were shocked that he would say that,” Knight said. “I was insulted, disappointed and upset that a public leader like himself doesn’t like it when students [and] constituents, as well as taxpayers in the state, come and talk to their elected officials about what their votes would do to them. I don’t understand why he would feel that way and much why he would say that.”

“The Government of the Student Body is apolitical. We don’t advocate for Democrats or Republicans, we advocate on the students’ interests,” Knight added.

Sen. Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames) was also present at the hearing.

“They talked very seriously about the quality of the programs, class sizes and [students] not leaving school in so much debt and [with] limitations on their career choices,” Quirmbach said. “All the students did a bang-up job in articulating their views.”

Quirmbach was shocked when he heard Hammerlink’s remarks.

“It was unprofessional,” Quirmbach said. “I hope to never see another display like that again.”

Quirmbach believes that it was the students’ duty to be there and speak as elected officials representing the students.

“It’s not just disrespecting the students there, but all the students that they represented,” Quirmbach said. “They were elected on behalf of the students to speak for all students.”

Despite Hammerlinck’s comments, the GSB will not discourage the student body from lobbying.

“Our plans aren’t going to change just because one senator tells us to go home,” Knight said. “If anything, it’s going to strengthen our resolve to continue lobbying in Des Moines and continuing letting our representatives know both here and from our students’ constituency districts what a seven percent cut to the regent institutions will do.”

GSB provides a way for students to have their voices heard by elected officials.

“We just want to make sure that all elected representatives know how crucial the state universities are to the state, the state’s economy and to the state’s people,” Knight said.