DES MOINES, Iowa — Senate Democrats are speaking out after a bill was recently introduced that would drastically change how state professors are hired.
Republican Senator Mark Chelgren of Ottumwa’s proposed bill would freeze professor hiring at state universities until the faculty is balanced in terms of political ideology.
This means, for example, a professor registered as a Democrat would not be hired unless the amount of Democrat and Republican faculty members at the school is within 10% of each other.
While the bill’s language calls it “partisan balance,” Senator Herman Quirmbach calls it a horrible attack on academic freedom.
“To establish quotas by political party association in academic departments would just destroy our public universities,” he said. “It’s one of the worst ideas I’ve heard in 15 years here.”
The bill would allow professors to register as “no party” and not be counted.
Quirmbach says even if the bill went into law, no one could enforce it.
“People can change their political party registration just by filing a new voter registration card. They can go in on election day and change it again, and they can change it anytime they want. So you know in terms of practical implementation it’s just impossible” said Quirmbach.
Senator Chelgren was not immediately available for comment.