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New home for UI Center for Human Rights to be decided in coming weeks

BY REBECCA MORIN | FEBRUARY 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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Last semester, shouts were heard across the Pentacrest protesting the closing of the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights.  This semester, however, cheers may be heard instead.

In September 2012, leaders at the UI Center for Human Rights announced that the center would be closed down this summer due to a loss of funds.

However, the provost has discussed new ways to keep the UI Center for Human Rights open.

“Currently, the provost has been discussing with the College of Law and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,” said Downing Thomas, the dean of International Programs at the UI. “Those are the two colleges involved in discussion.”

The law school is enthusiastic about the decision and is awaiting the details of the final negotiation as well.

“There is a long tradition of human rights at the College of Law and certainly there is an interest,” said Marcella David, a professor of law & International studies and associate dean.

The colleges involved are not the only ones excited by the decision that is in the works. Students and community members are also trying to stay hopeful for the center’s future.

“The answer is simple, if the center stays open, it will be great, if it doesn’t it won’t be great,” said Zach Heffernen. “Whatever ends up happening, our aspirations are just to encompass the entire student body to get involved.”

Jason Whisler, the president of the COGS, agreed.

“I haven’t heard the full details, but I’ve been hopeful that the center stays open,” Whisler said. “It is beneficial to the university, the students, and the community.”

The UI Center for Human Rights has provided many opportunities that proponents say have positively affected students and community members involved.  Classes, projects, and events provide students and community members with information and education for a better understanding of human rights.

“I have had the opportunity to teach a course for the center, and I think it’s great for undergraduates to have this type of opportunity,” Whisler said.

Those involved with the center hope to see its services remain intact even if housed in a new facility, and are looking forward to hearing more about its future.

“The provost’s main objective is to find a good home for the center and how they might be able to move forward,” Thomas said, adding more information about the negotiations will be made in the coming weeks.


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