You can’t make this up.
Republican Iowa State Senator Mark Chelgren recently proposed a bill aimed at achieving “partisan balance” among the faculty at each of the state’s universities. The bill is awkwardly worded, but if passed, it would seemingly prohibit each covered university from hiring someone as a professor or instructor “if the person’s political party affiliation on the date of hire would cause the percentage of the faculty belonging to one political party to exceed by ten percent the percentage of the faculty belonging to the other political party.”
In other words, if a university’s faculty is already predominantly Democrat, for instance, the bill would prohibit that university from filling any vacancy with a registered Democrat until it achieves “balance.” Once achieving balance, a university must make hires in a way that maintains that balance.
Now, this bill is a trash fire. It is both utterly pointless and blatantly unconstitutional.
As to being unconstitutional, the Supreme Court, ever since a landmark decision in 1978, has consistently rejected the authority of universities to make hiring or admissions decisions based on quotas that impinge on constitutionally-protected fundamental rights, including the right to equal protection and the freedom of association. This proposed bill explicitly does precisely that.
(As I said, the bill is a complete trash fire.)
Well, if it seems to you like the guy who proposed this bill has no idea how higher education works, everything is exactly as it seems. Prior to last week, the legislator claimed on his official website that he had obtained a “business degree” from “Forbco Management school.” However, as NBC News has reported, “State Sen. Mark Chelgren’s alleged alma mater is actually a company that operated a Sizzler steak house franchise in southern California and he doesn’t have a ‘degree.’” Rather, he took a management course when he worked for the Sizzler franchise, one similar to McDonalds’ “Hamburger U,” at the completion of which he received a “certificate.”
All of this said, Chelgren is no less qualified to make policy regarding Iowa’s universities as Betsy DeVos is to head the Department of Education. Let that sink in for a moment.
I for one could use a night out and a distraction from all of this politics. If only there were a Sizzler steak house nearby.