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HSB 206 defines different areas of teacher empowerment and would instruct the state ombudsman to investigate complaints received by teachers related to violence in the classroom. The bill also lays out a three strike system for student discipline. This bill was written after hearing from teachers that they don’t always feel like there is support from administrators to get problem students out of the classroom. It would hopefully provide backup for administrators to make tough decisions.

Two bills that I voted NO on also passed out of committee. The first was HF 367 which would prohibit schools from taking disciplinary actions against employees or students for using the legal name of an employee or student rather than the name they prefer to be called. I don’t believe this bill is necessary, and at its worst could protect a school employee or student in a bullying situation when an employee, student or student’s parents have explicitly requested to be called by a different name.

I also voted against HSB 218, which defines Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), DEI office and DEI officer, and prohibits DEI offices at the Regents universities and any DEI programming. While I believe DEI programming can and does seem over-the-top sometimes, I also believe that college is a place where young people of many different backgrounds and experiences come together to learn, not just about academics but how to live independently. Having facilitated conversations and programs on a wide variety of topics helps students learn more about others and ultimately helps them to be better citizens and community members.

After the vote, I visited with my clerk, Julia, who served a year-long term as the student body president at Iowa State University, about her thoughts on the bill. Given her previous experience in this area, I asked if she would share some of her thoughts surrounding this topic.

“I believe wholeheartedly that knowledge is power. College is a place we go to be exposed to new information; not all of which we may agree with or even like. That sense of discomfort isn’t necessarily bad. The more we learn and understand about the world around us, the better equipped we are to make well-informed decisions. I see the offices at our Regent Institutions that work in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion as bodies that seek to inform students of others’ true, lived experiences and help the community make sense of “significant events, issues, and observances happening locally and globally” as is stated on ISU’s website. In my experience, the press releases and materials put out by Iowa State’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are straight-forward, non-biased resources that aim to provide the facts of a situation and let others formulate their own opinions around the topic. Their work includes coverage on veterans, women, people with disabilities, different cultures, and more. As a firm believer our communities function best when we don’t put each other in boxes and focus on our similarities more than our differences, I still recognize the value that comes from being aware of our individual uniqueness and striving to support each other through empathy and understanding.”

Author: Chad Ingels


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