HLC site visit features student forum

Peer reviewers Dr. Lynette Olson, Dr. Anton Reiter (in-person), Dr. Martinez Sotelo and Dr. Sherilyn Poole engaged with students in an open forum discussion during the HLC site visit on Monday, March 29.

Karla DeBruin, Managing Editor

On Monday, March 29, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) hosted a Student Open Forum as part of their site visit to UNI during the re-accreditation process. 

Held in the Maucker Union Ballroom and online, the meeting allowed peer evaluators to ask questions to UNI students about life on campus. Some of the topics included what they liked about UNI, some things UNI could improve, the campus climate for diversity and advising on campus. 

The Forum included students in the Maucker Union Ballroom and students online. Only one peer evaluator was in-person, Dr. Anton Reiter, while the others joined via Zoom. The peer evaluators are professors from other universities in the Midwest that are selected randomly to help with the reaccreditation. 

Many students had high praises for UNI, mentioning the community they built through academics, working on campus and student organizations. 

Student Becca discussed the many opportunities she has had to be involved in “different aspects of the university, both academically and student orgs.”

“For a lot of people, I know that is a common thing for people to find your niche,” she said. “I’ve had the opportunity to go to research conferences. UNI provides a great opportunity for finding what is unique about yourself and what you enjoy. They are helping you to make it practical and apply it.”

When asked about ways UNI could improve, several students mentioned the facilities on campus. While some buildings need repair, students did note that other buildings are “brand new,” and the classrooms are always well-equipped.

“They have the base level of technology in each classroom,” said one student. “Some rooms have a learning curve with updated technology.”

One of the questions the peer reviewer asked was about diversity on campus. Some students mentioned that before coming on campus they thought UNI would be very diverse, since in their opinion, all of the marketing is shown that way, but when they came to campus, they did not experience that level of diversity. They did appreciate the Center for Multicultural Education and the steps that organization was taking on campus.

One student mentioned the Waka Flocka Flame concert held in 2019, which brought a lot of controversy. In general, students agreed that the university needed to improve diversity, inclusion and social justice shown on campus.

The peer reviewers ended the forum by talking about the academic advising process at UNI. Some mentioned they’ve had different advisors throughout their time on campus. 

One student mentioned she had no idea that in some colleges professors also served as  advisors, since in colleges such as Business and Education, employees are specifically hired to serve only as advisors.

In an email with the Northern Iowan, co-chair of the HLC Steering Committee Kristin Moser said, “Now that the peer review team has finished their on-site review, they will prepare a report that will be submitted to the Higher Learning commission in May.  The HLC Institutional Action Council will review the report and provide a final decision sometime this summer.”