GOP Lawmaker Wants To Punish Universities That Help Students With Trump-Related Grief

The "suck it up, buttercup" bill would slash funding for public universities in Iowa that offer election-related counseling.
Many colleges and universities across the country have offered resources to help students deal with election-related grief.
Many colleges and universities across the country have offered resources to help students deal with election-related grief.

With many people across the country looking for mental and emotional solace in the wake of President-elect Donald Trump’s staggering electoral victory last week, some colleges and universities have provided resources to help students cope.

Professors postponed tests and assignments, student groups distributed letters requesting time off from class and some schools even held “cry-ins,” where students could openly lament the results of the election.

Iowa state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R) sees this as disturbing evidence of colleges and universities coddling their students instead of making them face disappointment head-on. Kaufmann wants to punish this behavior with a bill that would slash funding to state institutions that use taxpayer money on election-related grief counseling or activities that go beyond the resources normally offered to students. He plans to introduce the measure when the state legislature reconvenes in January.

The legislation ― which Kaufmann deemed the “suck it up, buttercup” bill ― would cut funding for twice the amount that a public university spent on such election-specific resources. It would also create criminal penalties for protesters who shut down highways.

“In life, when your car breaks down, your kids get sick or you have to take a second job up to pay your mortgage, you don’t get to go to a ‘cry zone,’ you don’t get to pet a pony,” Kaufmann said in an interview on Fox News on Wednesday. “You have to deal with it.”

But there may be a problem with Kaufmann’s premise: Iowa’s state universities don’t plan to spend more money on election-related counseling and events, according to the Des Moines Register.

The University of Northern Iowa held discussion sessions for students and faculty to talk about the election results and their concerns. Iowa State University students and faculty organized a march to the university president’s office. All of these events were paid for using state funds that had already been allocated to the schools. 

“I think universities are the perfect place to have these types of conversations,” Scott Ketelsen, director of university relations at the University of Northern Iowa, told the Register. “It’s where people learn. It’s where they share ideas. I don’t consider it coddling.”

As a presidential candidate, Trump repeatedly came under criticism for racist, sexist and violent comments. Reports of hate crimes have increased in the wake of Trump’s win, which has left many people worried ― and while Kauffman may not be sympathetic to it, experts say the grief many are experiencing is very real.

The outcome was very unexpected, which didn’t make it any easier for Trump’s critics to swallow. He defied the expectations of pollsters and pundits, who nearly unanimously predicted that Democrat Hillary Clinton would win the election. Millennial voters overwhelmingly favored Clinton, according to a survey Harvard University’s Institute of Politics released late last month.



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