Editor’s Note: The following letter was submitted by the Iowa Student Action organization.
Dear Mr. Richards, Mrs. Cownie, Mr. Barker, Mrs. Bates, Mrs. Boettger, Mr. Dakovich, Mrs. Dunkel, Mr. Leist, & Mr. Lindenmayer:
We are your students. We bear the consequences of your decisions. We have come to your universities because we believe your promise that an Iowa education will provide access to a future that is better than our past.
Unfortunately, that promise is becoming harder to believe every day.
Over the past year, your promise of an accessible education has increasingly become a fantasy for all but the rich and white. The rest of us —Black and brown students, LGBTQ+ students, female students, and working-class students — struggle to pay exorbitant tuition and survive the rising tide of racial and gender violence on our campuses.
When you passed the Multi-Year Tuition Model, we warned you that tuition hikes would make our campuses more dangerous for students of color and poor students. We wish we had been wrong, but we were right.
Since the Multi-Year Tuition Model was passed — continuing the twenty-year trend of rising tuition costs
— enrollment has declined at all three of Iowa’s public universities, the national student debt crisis has reached over $1.6 trillion, and we have seen an explosion of white supremacist violence on campus. As the financial and mental cost of attending your universities rises, enrollment will continue to fall. More and more students will leave the state to seek the education they deserve.
At the University of Northern Iowa, the University of Iowa, and Iowa State University, our members have heard countless stories of racial discrimination and white supremacist violence. Throughout the public comment section of your meeting on November 14th, you heard stories from students about the economic and racial oppression we are experiencing on our campuses. Unfortunately, three minutes is not enough time for us to fully explain the problem.
That is why we, as students and as citizens, are requesting that this Board of Regents listen to us. We request that you attend forums hosted by Iowa Student Action in the spring semester at the University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa and Iowa State University. Together, we will discuss the impact of tuition hikes and the dangerous rise of racism on our campuses.
Our universities should be spaces for honest, rigorous discourse. In good faith, we implore you to accept our invitation to attend these joint town halls.
Sincerely, Your Students