Mason, Loh discuss budget, drinking


Mohammed Alhadab/The Daily Iowan
UI President Sally Mason, Eric Kaiser, the president of the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional Students, and the UI Provost Wallace Loh listen to audience questions at an open forum in the IMU on Wednesday.
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Students gathered Thursday night to get direct answers from their administrators on a range of issues. Quality of education, the fate of graduate programs, and drinking issues steered the discussion.

Approximately 15 students attended the event, which was held in the IMU on Wednesday night and featured UI President Sally Mason and Provost Wallace Loh.

“The forum’s purpose is for anybody to get answers,” said UISG President Michael Currie. “I wasn’t disappointed by the attendance.”

Recent budget cuts were the main focus of discussion between students and the administrators.

When asked about how the cuts will affect the educational quality of the UI in the future, Mason acknowledged the cuts will have negative effects.

“Initially, when we lost $65 million in fewer than 18 months, we had no choice but to reduce workforce,” she said. “Maybe we won’t be able to do everything we have done in the past.”

The university is most concerned with maintaining quality, she said; Loh agreed.

“The need to reduce our budget, which is real, allows us to rethink things to make our university better,” he said.

Students also touched on the binge-drinking problem.

Mason, in response to a question about new initiatives to steer students away from the downtown drinking culture, said the administration is looking very seriously at a downtown site for the UI School of Music — something she believes could change the culture in that area.

Loh elaborated on other plans to curb irresponsible drinking, such as increased police presence downtown on weekends and the possible installation of security cameras on the Pedestrian Mall.

Mason and Loh both said students asked hard questions at the forum.

“The questions were excellent,” Loh said after the event. “It is obvious that they cared deeply, and it is very helpful to hear directly from them.”

Attendance on Wednesday was better than at the last forum, which was held Dec. 3, 2009. UISG officials said at that forum the low turnout was partly due to poor advertising. This month, UISG sent out a mass e-mail to students about the second forum.

Loh emphasized the importance of student feedback in that setting.

“The students must have a voice,” he said.

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