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Editorial: UI/AIB concerns remain unaddressed

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | FEBRUARY 10, 2015 5:00 AM

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During the University of Iowa/ABI talks held in the State Capitol on Monday, UI President Sally Mason addressed a room full of representatives from all over Iowa as well as more than a dozen AIB students and faculty.

As Mason answered questions, the tones and tensions became palpable as more questions arose in regards to the ill-fated merger “that is not a merger” between AIB and the UI. Two weeks ago, AIB was told it would be incorporated into the UI with a “-Des Moines” added to the end. This has turned out not to be the case.

It was apparent that everyone in the room was looking for an answer, but few were given. More than anything, the conclusion of this meeting left more questions and illustrated who stands to lose the most from this debacle. When asked if anyone in the room was in a position to benefit from the falling through of this merger, Mason replied that “nobody stands to profit from this,” and given the reactions from AIB students and faculty, this certainly appears to be the case.

The overarching theme of discussion was loss. Whether it be scholarships, degrees, or sports, everyone in the room was going to lose something with no clear explanation about why.

It is too soon to holistically evaluate the benefits and repercussions of this union, but what has been made abundantly clear is that the manner in which this issue is currently being handled has haphazardly thrown many of AIB students’ lives into disarray. Many have had the rug pulled out from under them with the news that AIB’s sports teams will be discontinued in May and scholarships will only be honored until June 2016. Those students from out of state attending AIB because of the incentive of a three- or four-year scholarship will soon find themselves without a school and no promise of transferable tender. Mason on numerous occasions pointed to an idea of “self-sustainability” from a financial standpoint, but it would appear as though this mentality will extend to the AIB students in its next incarnation.

By and large, these students have been given the option of sink or swim with their capsizing university, albeit without the lifeboats they were promised only weeks ago. As previously mentioned, this tangled state of affairs is still developing, but more needs to be done to alleviate the litany of concerns that have been raised or at the very least provide the concrete realities that will determine the futures of these students.

In response to a previous statement made by Mason in regards to the possible addition of new Hawkeyes, AIB head baseball coach Chad Harris responded, “These are more than mascots, these are lives,” and this clarification is something that appears to have been left out of the calculations thus far. With all of the nitpicking over titles, accreditation, tuition, etc., it would appear as though the intended beneficiaries in this equation have been merely glanced at. Hopefully, in the near future, more will be done to bring the students and faculty of AIB out of the dark, because at the moment, all that is visible is an institution standing to lose so much without any real indication about why or what they’re supposed to do next.


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