State Senate Republican Shawn Hamerlinck made it clear yesterday that he has no use for the political opinions of students.
After students representing each of Iowa’s state Universities testified before the Senate Education Appropriation Committee today to oppose severe budget cuts for higher education, Senator Shawn Hamerlinck of Dixon, ranking Republican on the committee, responded to the students’ testimony by telling them to “go home.”
Hamerlinck stated, “I do not like it when students actually come here and lobby me for funds. That’s just my opinion. I want to wish you guys the best. I want you to go home and graduate. But this political theater, leave the circus to us OK? Go home and enjoy yourselves. I want to thank you for joining us and though I have to concede, your time speaking before us is kind of a tad intense. It’s probably a pretty new experience. You probably prepared for it for days and you sat there in front of us trying to make sure your remarks were just right, and that’s a good thing. But actually spending your time worrying about what we’re doing up here, I don’t want you to do that. Go back home. Thanks guys.“
The students were invited to the Capitol as part of “Open Budget Hearings.” The goal of the hearings was to hear feedback from Iowans impacted by the proposed budget cuts, including the effects of what some have described as the Republican’s “two-year starvation diet for Iowa schools.”
Thankfully, several of the Democrats on the Committee offered different viewpoints.
“Our number one job here today was to listen. These students should be commended for being active citizens engaged in their community,” said Senator Brian Schoenjahn, chair of the Education Budget Committee. “Shame on Senator Hamerlinck for telling them to ‘go home’ instead of listening.”
Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, chairman of the Senate Education Committee and a member of the hearing panel, Also weighed in, calling Hamerlinck’s remarks “incredibly insulting”.
“I think Sen. Hamerlinck’s comments were disrespectful, insulting and completely inappropriate,” said Quirmbach, who said he did not raise objections during the hearing because “I think I was too shocked to respond to them.”
Hamerlinck wasn’t the only one to diminish the students and their opinions, derisively and condescendingly saying that it was “plain asinine” that students “would be paraded in front of a politically driven show”.
David Miles, president of the state Board of Regents, had this to say in the defense of the students:
“I think that is reflective of what is a highly charged partisan environment right now, and I can understand that frustration, but I was disappointed when he moved from expressing that frustration to suggesting that they go home, because they have a valid point of view. No one is living this like they are,” Miles said. “It’s very disappointing for anyone to suggest that they don’t have an equal seat at the table on these decisions.“
That’s your Republican party to a tee these days. Making voting more difficult around the country, especially for college students, and condemning young voters when they try to make their voices heard.
(H/T to Terree for bringing this to my attention.)