Editorial: Callousness from the right


Protesters demonstrate in the intersection of Clinton Street and Iowa Avenue while disrupting traffic on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016. Community members carried signs and participated in chants against President-elect Donald Trump. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, claims to be writing a bill by the name “Suck it up, buttercup,” which he plans to present to state Legislature in January.

The bill would address the amount of state funding for universities that allocate the use of tax dollars on grief counseling for students seeking mental help in wake of the election. This bill would cut funding in double the amount spent on such student services.

Exactly why Kaufmann feels compelled to write this legislation rests on universities in Iowa and other states establishing what he described as “cry zones.” In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Kaufmann stated that these are places where “kids come cry out their sensitivity to the election results.” He later said “I find this whole hysteria to be incredibly annoying.”

For Kaufmann, it seems his personal annoyance warrants the continued disenfranchisement, alienation, and marginalization of LGBTQ individuals, Muslims, and people of color, whom are disproportionately affected by the election results.

This bill is nothing more than a callous reaction, thinly veiled in fiscally frugal rhetoric. This bill feels more like gloating over the Republican victory, a vulgar dance in the end zone, rather than any kind of pragmatic approach to managing state university funding.

One school that established these “cry zones” is the University of Northern Iowa, which held three sessions to discuss election results and the fear that surrounds them. But university spokesman Scott Ketelsen has noted that no money was spent in facilitating such dialogue, the New York Times has reported.

Iowa State was home to a plastering of racist propaganda just weeks before the election, which, the Des Moines Register reports, forced Iowa State officials to remove 20 racist posters from locations across the campus, some of which displayed symbols frighteningly familiar to Nazi imagery.

The fear and anxiety that surrounds this election is well-founded. The racist rhetoric used to enflame and mobilize the far right to vote has also emboldened them. And to deny counseling to those individuals who are frequently targeted by bigots is simply irresponsible.

Mental health has been a pre-existing issue on university campuses across the nation. In June 2013, the American Psychological Association reported that 41.6 percent of college students are afflicted with anxiety and 36.4 percent afflicted by depression, with 24.5 percent of counseling center clients taking psychotropic medications. Nineteen percent of these counseling directors reported that the psychiatric services on their campus were inadequate.

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board believes Kauffman’s prospective bill would only further threaten the mental health of college students in Iowa. Whether consciously or not, he is perpetuating the negative stigma that surrounds mental health. What’s worse, Kauffman’s bill would specifically target those minority communities that are most likely to be mentally affected by Trump’s victory.

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