The figures are different but the issues are hauntingly familiar. Residence hall rates are being increased to keep up with growing expenses and the costs of debt service on the ones already built. The Iowa State Legislature passed the Universitys budget but the governor vetoed the appropriations bill, leaving the University in bad shape financially. A new parking plan has been introduced to try to rid the campus of "a tremendous headache."
And 1,350 fathers of University students had joined the SUI Dads Association.
The year was 1956, the institution was called the State University of Iowa, its president was Virgil Hancher, and the six-month-old SUI Dads Association introduced its new publication, The SUI Dad. Youre reading its successor, 44 years later.
In the interim, the organization became the Dads Association in 1964 when SUI became The University of Iowa, and the publication became The Iowa Dad. When the Dads Association decided to admit mothers and become the Parents Association in November 1970, the publication became Campus Correspondent. And when it was decided in July 1979 to make all undergraduates parents automatic members of the Parents Association, Parent Times was born.
It seems ironic now that the plans for the SUI Dads Association were first discussed during Mothers Day weekend, May 12-13, 1956. The first general meeting came during the annual Dads Day celebration on campus, October 13. (Dads Day, it was noted in another issue, had been around since February 1922.)
Individual football game tickets cost $3.60 for Dads Association members, with a season ticket available for $21.60. Enrollment at Iowa was estimated at 9,500 (28,000+ now). President Hancher praised the student body for its "excellent deportment."
By Vol. 2 of The SUI Dad, readers were informed that the legislature had decided to require that students must pay a greater portion of the cost of running the University. Fees would range from $3 to $38 per semester for Iowa residents and $28 to $138 for nonresidents.
An editorial bemoaned the legislatures decision to cut the $16 million budget request for the State University of Iowa, Iowa State College, and Iowa State Teachers College to $10 million. In the 12 years since World War II ended, the editorial said, the total amount appropriated for new buildings at the University was $6.6 million; the University of Illinois had received $70 million in the same period. The post-war birthrate increase meant that "hordes of students" soon would knock on the Universitys doors and there would be nowhere to put them.
The SUI Dad reported in January 1958 that a national study, "Costs of Attending College," showed that undergraduate full-time students in public colleges were paying double in 1958 ($1,500 total cost per year) what students had paid in 1936. Costs of living on campus were the culprit. Nearly 20 percent of families surveyed reported an annual income under $3,000. Parents paid two-fifths of total costs from current funds; one-fifth came from savings of parents and relatives; students paid more than one-fourth of the total through their work.
The University dropped the interest rate on the 876 loans it had made to students from six to four percent, stating that many students who actually needed the money to finance their education were reluctant to apply.
"They seem to feel that there is a stigma attached to borrowing," said Paul Griffeth, secretary of the Dads Association. "But if they need the money, we tell them there is nothing to be ashamed of and that they couldnt find a more worthwhile reason for borrowing than to continue their educations."
The files of the four publications show some other similarities. Starting with the pioneering work in the late 1950s of James A. Van Allen, whose "rockoons," launched from a naval vessel in the Arctic, had led to the discovery of what later would be called the Van Allen Belts of radiation around the Earth, space-related articles appeared in the publications.
Growing use of technology on campus was another theme. The SUI Dad rejoiced in 1961 the leasing of a new million-dollar computer system from IBM that "can add or subtract 16,000 five-digit numbers, multiply 660 ten-digit numbers, or divide 320 ten-digit numbers in one second. It could read a 1,800-page telephone directory in 3 1/2 minutes and add up all the phone numbers in 81 seconds."
As controversy broke out in campuses across the nation, President Howard Bowen commented in The Iowa Dad in 1969 that, on the whole, the University had been "an orderly place where the overwhelming majority have been quietly and effectively studying, working, and conversing."
But Iowa was affected in later years. Dads Association secretary Loren Hickerson dealt with campus turmoil in the Campus Correspondent. He gently chided parents who asked, "If the radicals are few in number, why dont the students just run them off campus?" The idea of student solidarity is a myth, he said; students dont act as a community.
"The key to progress in tempering campus unrest is not the banishment of radical views," he said. "It is the rejection of violence as a form of protest. It is in this cause that the students can be powerful, through their example."
By early 1975, Hickerson reported, "Anger is gone, intemperance is less prevalent, and student debate reflects a new realization: where freedom is concerned, solutions can be as troublesome as problems."
Through its history, the parents publications have received and answered letters from readers. With modern technology, Parent Times now receives e-mail feedback, too. The address, email@example.com, is printed in the publication you receive at home and on the Parent Times web site at http://www.uiowa/edu/ptimes. Editors years from now, looking at historical files, will note that 1999 was the year that Parent Times took another step in its history by developing the web site.
By Anne Tanner