Iowa Senator Introduces Bill Placing ‘Ban’ on Stanford University to Elicit Apology

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DES MOINES, Iowa - Still reeling from that Stanford University marching band halftime performance during the Rose Bowl? So is one state lawmaker, and he's introduced a bill to do something about it.

The January 1 bowl game between Stanford University and the University of Iowa saw a crushing defeat for the Hawkeyes, 45-16. But perhaps the real punch to the gut - at least for some Iowa fans - was the Stanford marching band's halftime performance, which ESPN cut away from due to its inappropriate mockery of Iowa stereotypes (think: a frowning farmer marching formation and a dancing, spotted cow).

The Stanford marching band is a loosely-affiliated student organization at the school that has received scrutiny in the past for crude performances. But State Sen. Mark Chelgren (R-Ottumwa) has introduced a bill, as of Wednesday, that would ban all future collaboration between the institution and the three public universities in Iowa.

"I really felt the halftime performance was disrespectful," Chelgren said. "I know the Rose Bowl committee felt it was disrespectful. Virtually everyone thought it was done in poor taste. But we had not heard from Stanford. Because the band that played at halftime was their guest, and their guest behaved poorly. And I felt that Stanford should come out with some kind of public statement about what happened."

The proposed bill, Senate File 2081, would allow all current athletic contracts between the schools to be honored, as well as any former and current collaborations between the schools. Chelgren's bill would simply ban any future collaborations until Stanford University issues a public apology. But Senate Democrats are calling the bill "childish" and guarantee a "quick death" for it, should it be brought up to a vote.

"I just think it's childish, we have a ton more important things to do here," said Sen. Jeff Danielson (D-Cedar Falls). "It's also not a good idea. Why would you punish all of the academic and economic exchanges that Iowa could benefit from a premier institution like Stanford  over something that happened on the sports field, and then in your own bill, exempt that prohibition from interaction for sports? That's what your bill should say if that's what concerns you. It's just silly. It's childish. It's what gives people the impression of who we are as elected officials a very negative impression. We don't need to be doing that to ourselves so I hope it dies a very quick death."

Since Chelgren proposed the bill Wednesday, a spokesman for Stanford has stated the school expresses "regret" for the performance, according to the Des Moines Register. Chelgren says that's a "half-way" achievement, but that expressing regret does not equate a formal, public apology.

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