DES MOINES – 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 fear, 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. Next guest."
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."
The students testifying before the committee included President of Northern Iowa Student Government Spencer Walrath, Iowa State University Student Body Vice President Jared Knight, University of Iowa Student Government President Elliot Higgins, Former President of Council of Graduate and Professional Students Lyndsay Harshamn, and current Vice President of the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students Michael Appel.
The students testified that the Republicans’ proposed budget cuts making higher education unaffordable for many students and their families, increase class sizes, and reduce course offerings.
"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."