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SPRING 2000-01
Volume 44, Number 3


Forget the Stereotypes: Nurses Explore New Fields

Abusive Drinking: University, Parents' Efforts Begin to Show Results

Presidential Reflections

Read This Before Renting

Senior Care: Respect, Understanding Kindness Can Quiet Fears

The Daily Iowan: Much More Than It Seems

Cataloguing Challenges: New Librarian Takes on a Big Job

Track Legislation on UI Web Sites

Parents Board Funds Projects for 2001-02

Campus Event Calendar

Parent Times Briefs

University Calendar

Presidential Reflections: Drinking, DI, Library, Careers

Mary Sue Coleman

QuestionJust 13 months ago, people were saying that The Stepping Up Project would have a hard time of trying to make headway in finding a way to mitigate excessive drinking on campus. It was difficult, but there are a lot of positives now.

AnswerI think the best news about the whole issue of excessive drinking is the much-heightened awareness of the issue. Five years ago, when people were talking about abusive drinking and its secondary effects, it was treated as a joke and no one took it seriously. No one wanted to deal with it. We find a very different scenario now.

I believe the level of education and awareness about this issue is much higher. Rather than hearing that excessive drinking is just a rite of passage, a stage that students go through, there’s much more awareness of the effects it can have on roommates and friends of the abusive drinker, and there’s much more interest in trying to come up with positive solutions.

The fact that the City Council is trying to deal with this issue now is important, too. First they passed an ordinance directed against disorderly houses. Then they considered drink specials and limiting people in bars to age 21 and older. The City Council has been challenging bar owners to come up with their own solutions to the problem. So there’s more going on.

The University has stepped up its efforts to provide programs at night. We’ve scheduled Night Games at the Field House, the various theme dances such as the Valentine’s Dance in February, the special "Up All Night" programs at the Iowa Memorial Union and the residence halls, the alcohol-free tailgates at football games. They get accepted slowly, but we find every year there’s more and more agreement that they are important. I’ve been impressed by the public officials’ buy-in as well as the students’ buy-in.

QuestionHave you been hearing from students on this issue? Will you be working with University of Iowa Student Government?

AnswerUISG has just done an on-line survey of students. Many students still don’t believe that anything can be done to reduce excessive drinking.

We have to find ways to get to the students early. They tell us, and we already knew, that the problems with abusive drinking begin long before they get to college. The problems begin in high school and even in junior high. So Stepping Up is looking for ways to reach high schools with programs and information.

This is a long-term change; it won’t be quick. We are trying to take a global view and change the whole environment. We understood when we started Stepping Up that there weren’t any quick fixes. But we wanted our community to be a model of trying to grapple with these issues. We’re still not where we want to be, but I’m encouraged by what has happened to date.

QuestionLet’s change gears now. We’ve been talking with Nancy Baker, the new University librarian, about her first impressions of the library and the challenges she sees ahead. Now that we’re about to get the new library furniture the students have been asking for, what are you hearing from students?

AnswerOne thing they’re very interested in is being able to extend the hours that the library is open. So when we changed our fee structure, we devoted at least 25 percent of the released funds to extending hours, improving the furniture, giving students more access to digital resources, and improving the electronic connections in the library. Students want to be able to bring their laptops to the library and plug them in. I’m most pleased that we’ve been able to extend the hours that the Main Library is open. I think as a university we certainly need to respond when our students request more hours in the library. This is a good thing.

QuestionWe’ve also been observing the staff of The Daily Iowan as they plan and produce the paper. It’s such an interesting paper, not at all like most campus newspapers.

AnswerI think the DI draws really good students as staff. Students who have been seriously involved with the DI here have a leg up when it comes to going out to find professional jobs. It has a long tradition of being a really good student newspaper.

I have a regular meeting once a month with a DI reporter. When they call and want to talk with me, I do make a special effort to respond to them, because the DI is part of their education. I do try to help all reporters, of course, if it’s possible, but I see the DI as an opportunity to further education.

Another remarkable thing about the DI is that the University subsidizes only the circulation to our students. This is good, because it is an independent newspaper, and that claim is much more valid because the paper earns its own revenues.

QuestionIn this issue, we’re also talking to nurses who have found unconventional positions with their nursing degrees.There is a tremendous shortage of hospital nurses. Nursing is really a good career opportunity in the traditional sense, too. Even if someone wanted to do something different later, he or she could be a traditional nurse for a few years for background and then branch out. Salaries are quite good, and it’s a field for people who want flexibility. It’s not just an 8-to-5 job. There are ways to arrange a work schedule that might be very attractive to some people.

AnswerI think it’s a career that young people should consider seriously. With the background, nurses can go in a lot of different directions, such as case management for insurance companies, nurse anesthesia, and geriatric nursing, which is just huge. I would hope that both men and women see this as a positive career choice.


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