Joni Ernst to Deliver Iowa State’s Fall 2016 Commencement Address

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Iowa State University has chosen freshman Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Red Oak, a graduate of the university, the first woman to serve the state in Congress, and an unapologetic supporter of president-elect Donald Trump, to deliver its fall 2016 commencement address Dec. 17.

A glowing profile posted by ISU (which was copied and pasted from Ernst’s Senate website) praises the state’s junior senator for her military service, Midwestern values, and “independent leadership and commitment to public service.”

“Sen. Ernst,” the profile reads, “is focused on growing a vibrant economy and ensuring the government runs effectively and efficiently which means cutting out-of-control spending, reducing taxes, eliminating harmful regulations and balancing the budget.”

Left out are details including the fact that Ernst is a climate change denier who still had the gall last year to tour an ISU lab committed to addressing the issue, and that some of the “harmful regulations” she wants to eliminate are likely similar to those Myron Ebell, Trump’s notorious climate-denying EPA transition team head, is eyeing. Nor does the profile address the contradiction in choosing a commencement speaker at a public university who called for abolishing the federal Department of Education during her run for the Senate.

And, although Ernst has spoken out against sexual assault in the military, her support for Trump, who has bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy” and been accused of sexual harassment or assault by a dozen women, never wavered. Still, although ISU has been under federal investigation for its handling of sexual assaults and is being sued by a former student who has alleged that university officials “actively discouraged” her from reporting being raped, it still chose to invite Ernst to deliver the address.

Ernst’s speech is scheduled to happen four and a half months after her high-profile address in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

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Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.