IOWA LEGISLATURE

Iowa lawmakers eye public university 'public policy events' directors

The Iowa State House cupola on Thur. Mar 11, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
The Iowa State House cupola on Thur. Mar 11, 2016. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

Addressing Republican notions that Iowa’s public universities are liberal-leaning, more often promote Democratic views and recently have quashed conservative voices, lawmakers are pursuing a bill requiring the campuses to appoint a current employee to serve as a “director of public policy events.”

Duties of the new director would include, among other things, inviting speakers to campus who can “articulate perspectives on widely debated public policy issues otherwise poorly represented on campus.”

Other responsibilities of the position would include:

• Organizing and publicizing debates, forums, and lectures addressing “from multiple, divergent, and opposing perspectives an extensive range of public policy issues.”

• Inviting speakers “who hold a wide diversity of perspectives from within and outside the campus community to participate in public policy events.”

• Providing honoraria, transportation, and lodging expenses for speakers — when funding is available and when the guests are from outside the community.

• Maintaining an online calendar of public policy events.

• Producing a video recording of every event, to be posted online within 10 days.

“Each video shall be accessible on the institution’s internet site for not less than five consecutive years following the date of the event recorded,” according to the proposed legislation, sponsored by Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, which sits just 10 miles north of the University of Northern Iowa.

Her bill notes the new director should “make every reasonable effort to ensure that funding is available to host speakers holding opposing viewpoints.”

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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