Guest Opinion: Lack of state support will impact student services

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Dear UI community,

Throughout the week, you have heard from several of my colleagues regarding the Iowa Senate’s proposal to disinvest in the University of Iowa. I stand alongside other leaders of this campus to add my concerns about this plan, which will have a significant negative impact on our community. 

Over the last 20 years, as UI’s enrollment has increased significantly, the state has reduced funding for the university. In fiscal 1998, the state gave $223 million to the University of Iowa. Twenty years later, that number fell to $216 million. This is despite the fact that the overall state budget grew by nearly $3 billion in that same time. 

RELATED: Editorial: Iowa must reinvest in higher education

While the numbers alone are powerful, I urge you to consider the domino effect that reduced funding to higher education has on our state. The rising cost of college tuition is a hot topic nationally. It is no secret that the price of attending colleges and universities has risen faster than what many families can afford. By failing to properly fund public institutions, the Legislature continues to make higher education prohibitively expensive for many Iowan families. 

In addition to rising tuition costs, slashes to university budgets across the country have led to a decrease in the number of student services offered. 

I have the pleasure of leading the Division of Student Life. My staff and I see the effect of providing top-notch student services on a daily basis. From the students who participate in civic leadership training to the students who need assistance with off-campus housing to the students who are struggling to get enough to eat, the Division of Student Life serves them all. As a team, we are proud of the role we play in shaping a well-rounded college experience for as many students as possible, but we cannot do that without proper funding. 

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We owe our students as many co-curricular opportunities as possible because they are doing extraordinary, high-impact work during their time on campus. They are civically engaged and making Iowa a better place to live and work. 

Last week was the 24th year for the UI Dance Marathon. This incredible community raised more than $3 million to help fund pediatric cancer research at the Stead Family Children’s Hospital. More than 2,700 students gave of themselves to make this event a success, and their work is going to benefit the future of families fighting pediatric cancer. 

This is just one example of how our students are using their human resources to give back in huge ways. 

UI students support this campus, and we are all called to support them, too. If you believe, as I do, in the power current students have to shape the future of our world, please join me in contacting your legislators now to tell them that you are against the proposed 4 percent cut, which amounts to more than $8.6 million. It will have impacts that go beyond just UI students and will affect the university’s ability to serve our great state.

Let’s join together.

 

In Community,

Dr. Melissa Shivers

Vice President for Student Life

 

#NoFundingNoFuture

As the UI seeks funding from the state Legislature for its fiscal 2019 appropriations request and faces the possibility of more midyear budget cuts, the DI will publish pieces from UI community leaders and informational pieces highlighting the value of higher education and calling for advocacy. Continue checking daily-iowan.com as Iowa’s universities face this critical issue.

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