By Elianna Novitch
Tuition, food affordability, student wages, and housing were issues that dominated the University of Iowa Student Government’s first town hall.
At a small gathering in the Danforth Chapel on Monday, a few undergraduate students met with UISG leaders to discuss how issues relating to affordability affect them.
According to UISG, the purpose of the town hall was to provide a space for students to voice concerns, ask questions, and share personal perspectives that pertained to the issue of affordability.
“I think this was a good topic for us to get started based on issues that happening [regarding] the tuition task force and [tuition increase] proposals,” UISG Vice President Lilián Sánchez said.
A variety of students from different parts of the UI community attended the town hall to voice their issues and opinions.
One student in attendance, UI junior Carissa Bailey, was there representing the Food Pantry.
“Affordability is a topic that we are really intertwined with because we work to provide nutritious and affordable food for students,” said Bailey, the executive director of the pantry.
Bailey noted that food affordability and insecurity is an issue that affects many in the UI community, citing that the Food Pantry is currently serving nearly 300 clients.
“Food insecurity is a very prominent issue across campuses nationwide,” Bailey said. “Getting access to nutritious, affordable food is really essential to being successful.”
UI senior Brad Pector, who was also in attendance, said he would like to see transparency and student minimum wage addressed post town hall.
“There are two things I would like to see happen next, transparency being one of them. If we see tuition hikes, let’s see where that revenue is going,” Pector said. “The second thing being $10.10 minimum wage for all students.”
Sánchez said she was happy to see members of the UI community speaking on their experiences and issues.
“I was expecting to just focus on tuition but I was happy that we had members of different communities on campus come and talk about their respective issues whether it was food affordability, housing, wages, and so I’m very happy that it was a good, diverse conversation,” Sánchez said.
UISG President Jacob Simpson said he appreciated being able to directly engage with students and get their perspective on the issues surrounding affordability.
“To be able to hear the perspective of someone who isn’t in our shoes really makes us rethink how we go about our work,” Simpson said.
Both Simpson and Sánchez say the next step is to review what was discussed and then identify actions to be taken in order to address the issues of affordability like housing, tuition, student wages, and food.
“I think Jacob and I and the rest of our administration will do our best to take that feedback and seriously consider how everything is going to fit into the work that we are doing and then hopefully based on that we’ll be able to more accurately represent the student body,” Sánchez said.