U of I supports regents’ 9.9 percent

Wendy Weiskircher

The University of Iowa Student Government pulled an abrupt change in momentum Monday night when it passed a resolution to support a 9.9 percent increase in fees and tuition. Student leaders from Iowa State, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa previously had joined forces in an effort to lower the projected tuition increases. Representatives from Iowa State and the University of Northern Iowa were en route to Iowa City late Tuesday night to discuss this change with UISG executives. ISU Government of the Student Body leaders said they have no plans to follow the University of Iowa’s lead, and they believe losing U of I support could weaken their protest. “This is definitely going to change the environment we’re walking into,” GSB President Ben Golding said. “We’re standing firm with UNI in our position, but I don’t know what message this will send [to the regents].” The UISG resolution “cautiously backs” U of I President Mary Sue Coleman’s recommendation to raise tuition for in-state undergraduate students by 9.9 percent. UISG President Andy Stoll said he hopes the student leaders still can make a joint presentation to the Board of Regents today, although he said he knows the representatives will differ on some points. “I would like to see us come together on most of the points to support the unified front,” he said. The Board of Regents proposed a 9.3 percent increase for in-state undergraduate students at the University of Iowa, but the university will ask for a 9.9 percent increase to account for a raise in computer fees, Stoll said. “In order to keep up with Iowa State and a lot of other universities nationwide, [Coleman] said she was going to ask to raise the computer fee $15,” he said. According to the resolution, the increase would generate about $500,000 that will enhance computer technology on and off campus. Although the resolution passed in the UISG senate, there were a few dissenting opinions. “It’s a really sensitive issue because there are some people who this is going to affect quite a bit,” said Shaun DeBow, UISG humanities senator. “I just feel really sorry for the students who come from families that make the average income in Iowa, and I think those people are probably going to be hit the hardest.” Adam Pudenz, UISG business senator, said the regents might consider a proposal closer to their numbers more than a plea for a decrease. “We know that we can scream until we’re blue in the face, but we know [the regents are] not going to listen,” he said. Alex Olson, GSB off-campus senator, said GSB representatives were disappointed with the UISG resolution. “I certainly believe we are taking a better stand than they are,” Olson said. “I understand this was their prerogative, but a change this late in the game certainly does not help our arguments.” Andy Tofilon, co-director of intergovernmental affairs for GSB, said he does not think the resolution will weaken the students’ message. “We worked the entire summer on this, and for them to change it the day before we make our presentation is very counterproductive to our cause,” he said. “But I don’t think it will drastically change our effectiveness with the board. We have strong numbers and a very good case to present to the board.” GSB still plans to rally support among the regents for a 6.74 percent increase in tuition. The student leaders will make their presentations at today’s board meeting, and the regents will vote on the tuition and fees issue at the October meeting in Ames.