UI On Iowa! program carries $250K pricetag


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The OnIowa program kicked off its second year this weekend, showering roughly 4,500 first-year students with giveaways, concerts, fireworks, and more.

The three days of programming came with a hefty price tag.

This year’s budget for the welcome program was set at around $250,000. University of Iowa officials said some funds from the $250 student enrollment fee were designated for the program.

The four most costly expenses were free T-shirts for students costing approximately $21,250, payment for student leaders adding up to about $16,000, and Friday and Saturday night entertainment and food totaling up to roughly $25,000. 

Andrew Beckett — an assistant dean in the Provost’s Office who works on retention issues — said compared with the work being done for OnIowa, the budget could have been larger.

“The one thing I can emphasize is [the budget] is actually pretty low,” he said. “That’s because of all the time and effort people volunteer.”

Beckett said even with high costs, the benefits to students are irreplaceable.

“[The purpose of OnIowa is] to really help students get academically ready for college but probably more importantly making social connections to students,” he said. “Prior to the program three years ago, students were moving in Saturday, convocation on Sunday, and starting classes on Monday.”

Some participants of OnIowa said the social benefit and free stuff outweighed other activities.

“The only reason I went back is to get names [of people in my group],” said UI freshman Austin Schaub. “… it was a pretty fun way to meet people who weren’t in my dorm. If it weren’t for the social aspect, I might have ditched. The free candy was a plus.”

Other students said the programming was too lengthy.

“I thought [OnIowa] dragged on,” said UI freshman Grant Grainger. “The [portion] on the field dragged on, and we didn’t need to hear all the speakers.”

However, many freshmen, including Kolton Dahms, said OnIowa was a positive experience — especially the portion on the field at Kinnick Stadium.

“I’ve been a Hawkeye fan since I was little, and getting on the field and seeing the stands and how close we were to the field was awesome,” he said. “Seeing where the players play was a great experience.”

Mayflower resident assistant Kyle Klingbeil said he thinks the program has improved since last year.
“This year, it’s very inviting,” the UI junior said. “I think it’s more organized than last year. The second time around is more efficient.”

Kate Sojka, director of new student programs and the lead staff person for OnIowa, said officials made revisions to the program after receiving feedback from 1,500 of last year’s participants.

“I think the big thing is we really listened to the feedback that we received from students last year,” she said. “Some of the feedback, too, was that people wanted more free time to get to know their roommate and to get settled in, and so we definitely accounted for that this year.”

Michael Barron, the director of UI Admissions, said he thinks the program is successful because it builds a sense of community for the students.

“I think first of all it recognizes that all first-year students come to the university without any college experience, and it introduces them to college life, and expectations, and opportunities,” he said. “It builds a sense of community. It focuses on small-group experiences — sort of creates some familiarity, especially in the residence hall, and introduces students to traditions.”

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