Iowa Republican wants to require ‘partisan balance’ at universities

Iowa Republican wants to require ‘partisan balance’ at universities
© Greg Nash
A senior Iowa state senator wants to require state universities and colleges to consider a job candidate’s political affiliation during the hiring process, in order to create more partisan balance among faculty.
 
The senator, Mark Chelgren (R), filed legislation over the weekend that would require Iowa’s state board of regents to consider a potential faculty member’s party during the hiring process. If a school’s faculty tilts toward one of the two major parties by more than a 10 percentage-point margin, the school would be prohibited from hiring any more members of that party.
 
Every year, Iowa’s chief elections official would be required to submit voter registration records to the board of regents.
 
Opponents of the measure criticized it as a way to block registered Democrats from securing jobs at the University of Iowa, Iowa State and other institutions.
 
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“If you took a survey right now, it’s highly likely that Iowa professors are registered as Democrats at a much higher rate than Republican[s]. So any new hires would be strictly limited to Republican or No Party voters,” wrote Pat Rynard, on the liberal Iowa Starting Line blog. 
 
Chelgren’s proposal would not count those who register to vote without declaring a party affiliation. He told the Des Moines Register that the loophole would allow potential instructors to change their affiliation in order to get a job.
 
Chelgren, the chairman of the state Senate Appropriations Committee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
 
In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Chelgren said students “should be able to go to their professors, ask opinions, and they should know publicly whether that professor is a Republican or Democrat or no party affiliation, and therefore they can expect their answers to be given in as honest a way as possible.”
 
A similar measure died in North Carolina’s state legislature on Monday. That version would have required senior professors within the University of North Carolina system to reflect the ideological balance of Tar Heel voters.