In the days following the election, university campuses across the country erupted in rallies and marches. College counselors offered “healing spaces” and meditation sessions to help students cope with postelection trauma. Some professors even canceled classes or allowed students to opt out of tests.
One lawmaker in Iowa says he finds this “whole hysteria to be incredibly annoying.”
Bobby Kaufmann, a Republican, plans to introduce a bill that echoes the eye-rolling frustration expressed by many who think colleges are “coddling” their students.
He’s referring to the piece of legislation as the “suck it up, buttercup” bill and he hopes to introduce it when the legislature resumes in January, the Des Moines Register reported.
The bill would take aim at state universities that offer election-related sit-ins and grief counseling beyond the resources normally available to students. Those colleges that use taxpayer dollars to fund these extra programs would be subject to a budget cut for double the amount they spend.
Kaufmann said he had heard of four or five schools in other states that were staffing grief counselors in zones where “kids can come cry out their sensitivity.”
“People have the right to be hysterical,” Kaufmann said. “On their own time.”
The legislation would also create new criminal penalties for protesters who shut down highways, Kaufmann told the Des Moines Register.
Kaufmann, who is serving in his second term in the Iowa House, is a crop and livestock farmer who works on his family’s eight-generation farm. He lives in Wilton, Iowa, a town about an hour southeast of Cedar Rapids. He operates a steel-hauling, construction and demolition business and is a member of the Farm Bureau and National Rifle Association, among other groups, according to a biography on the Iowa House Republicans website.
A number of public colleges in Iowa held events to help students discuss and deal with the election results. But at least three of those — Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa — confirmed they are not spending any additional state resources to run the programs, the Des Moines Register reported.
“I think universities are the perfect place to have these types of conversations,” said Scott Ketelsen, director of university relations at the University of Northern Iowa. “It’s where people learn. It’s where they share ideas. I don’t consider it coddling.”
The Iowa lawmaker’s idea for the bill received mixed reactions on Twitter:
— Iowa Minute Man (@RandyMillam) November 14, 2016
@desmoinesdem Politics aside, how sad and just plain mean.
— Austin Frerick (@AFrerick) November 15, 2016
On Tuesday, a day after the Des Moines Register reported on Kaufmann’s plans, the University of Iowa took to Twitter to encourage students to call counseling services if they were seeking any sort of help.
— University of Iowa (@uiowa) November 16, 2016
Kaufmann’s plans followed a debate over the extent to which college campuses should provide additional resources — or exemptions — to help students cope with what some see as emotional postelection trauma.
At the University of Michigan at Flint, students were informed of counseling services in three separate emails over a span of five hours. At the University of California at San Diego, a three-hour “Talk It Out” event gave students the opportunity to hash out their feelings with a doctor with Counseling and Psychological Services, the College Fix reported.
And a note posted on Facebook and Twitter the morning after the election by Purdue University’s student government president incited a slew of negative comments. The Purdue Student Gov account tweeted a template note that “grieving” students could send to a professor to request an extension, cancellation or excused absence for that day’s assignment.
“This is an instance in which I feel I need to take time for myself to heal after what was a traumatic evening last night,” the note template wrote. The president later apologized.
A sophomore at Duke University posted a similar draft email in the All Duke Facebook page.
Responses to the note from Purdue’s Student Government called it “intensely pathetic” and told students to “grow up.”
“Poor little snowflakes. Run to your safespaces. Life didn’t go your way,” one comment wrote.
The professor, Steven Berry, said the day after the election, he allowed his students to choose to opt out of the second midterm for personal reasons and transfer the weight of the exam entirely onto the final exam. While some of his students did email him expressing fear of personal consequences as a result of the election, almost all the students showed up for the test the following day.
“It was hard and most students took the full 75 minutes,” Berry wrote. “No crying, no whining, no excuses.”
The Iowa lawmaker also criticized some of the protests and rallies that took place across the state and country in the days after the election. He called out protesters who closed Interstate Highway 80 in Iowa City during a rally against President-elect Donald Trump last week.
Kaufmann said he plans to establish a law enforcement task force to consider options on how to address the issue and create tougher criminal penalties for those who disturb traffic. Officers now could potentially charge protesters with certain violations, but Kaufmann said many have told him they’d like clarity on the issue, the Des Moines Register reported.
“I have no issue with protesting,” he said. “In fact, I would go to political war for anyone who wanted to protest or dissent and they couldn’t. But you can’t exercise your constitutional right by trampling on someone else’s.”
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