Bill proposed to create partisan balance

Iowa State Capitol

Iowa State Capitol

Danielle Gehr

A newly proposed bill would try to create more diversity of thought, keeping the percentage of Democratic and Republican professors within 10 percent.

The bill, authored by Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa, states that it would maintain partisan balance in Iowa universities when it comes to its educators.

The bill blocks universities from hiring faculty who would offset the balance, excluding those without party affiliation. 

Faculty Senate President Jonathon Sturm expressed his disappointment with the bills being passed in Iowa legislator that threaten intellectual freedom, referring to this bill as well as one to eliminate tenure. 

“State schools above all should be held to the highest standards of freedom that undergird our nation.  And when a government dictates what its citizens must think, or how they must act, its people are no longer free,” Sturm said.

The Des Moines Register quoted Chelgren, who said, “They want to have people of different thinking, different processes, different expertise. So this would fall right into category with what existing hiring practices are.”

Chelgren also added that institutions currently hire based on diversity. 

Josh Lehman, spokesperson for the Board of Regents, told the Register that the board expects its universities to pick the most qualified candidates.

“Senator Chelgren’s bill attempts to limit the free exploration of ideas in the company of whatever people happen to be on location on any particular campus by attempting to proscribe what faculty can be hired to a campus,” Sturm said. 

He added that students who want to go to an institution with similar opinions as them, there are plenty of schools with those same ideals.

Storm said that political affiliation is not protected under law like race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. are. 

“It seems to me a far more critical and valuable pursuit to create equity among American faculty in these areas first, but Senator Chelgren appears to have no interest in these values,” Sturm said.