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UI Hawkeye Caucus sends personal notifications to Iowa Legislators

BY ABIGAIL MEIER | DECEMBER 12, 2013 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa Hawkeye Caucus gathered on Wednesday to encourage students to personally contact Iowa legislators to renew the tuition freeze for in-state undergraduate students for a second year.

“I think we can all agree the rising cost of college for students can be tough,” said Joelle Brown, the president of the Hawkeye Caucus. “This is a great way for students to be vocal and lend their voice to an action that will help maintain the cost of college and prevent it from increasing for in-state students.”

Brown said the main goal with the email and letter-writing blitz was to improve better relationships between Iowa legislators and students at the universities. She said many of the requests from the state Board of Regents are very similar to those from last year, and she expects to approach the regents through personal communication.

UI President Sally Mason supported the efforts of the Hawkeye Caucus to develop a deeper relationship with Iowa legislators.

“I commend our students for advocating for the freeze,” Mason said. “Many legislators I’ve spoken to have told me that they appreciated hearing from students about this issue.”

One element Sen. David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan noted was the importance of students voicing their concerns, because they can affect decisions made in the Legislature.

“The students remain actively engaged with legislators,” Johnson said. “It’s not just the regents, university presidents, and other officials. It’s that personal contact with student leaders, families, and alumni of the universities.”

Johnson said students traveling to Des Moines and meeting with legislators had a large effect on the success of the tuition freeze, and this will be even more important the second time around. Johnson noted that how Gov. Terry Branstad addresses the proposal when he unveils his budget on Jan. 14, 2014, will be important to the final approval.

“There has been days when student leaders from Iowa, Iowa State, and UNI have been to the Capitol and have taken time out of their schedule to attend our forums,” Johnson said. “It is a very effective way to get attention of legislators.”

UI Director of Federal Relations Peter Matthes said last year, UI students and parents engaged their local legislators and expressed support for the tuition freeze and the high-quality education they receive at the UI. He said this is an important factor to the success of the regents’ proposal.

“It is vital that students and their parents contact their local legislators in order for them to understand the impact a tuition freeze has on their lives,” Matthes wrote in an email.

Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, said he would like to see more interaction among the universities in Iowa and the communities that surround them.

“Those of us that physically live where the schools need to do a better job educating the value of our regents’ schools, not just for Johnson County, but everyone in the state,” Jacoby said.

For UI senior Sabrina Vitale she said she moved to the United States from Italy because of the opportunity for a better education. She said she supports the tuition freeze because many students who are leaving college are being tied down because they start out in a large amount of debt.

“I came here for the opportunity at the American dream,” Vitale said. “We are young adults trying to be successful in life, and we are starting out in so much debt. Why make that dream harder for us?”


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