Board working to keep students healthy, safe
Greetings to each of you from the Parents Association Advisory Board.
It is difficult to believe that we are quickly approaching the end of another academic year. We’d like to congratulate graduating seniors and all of the families who have supported their academic efforts. We know their years at The University of Iowa have prepared them well for a bright future, and we offer them our best wishes.
The past year has been an active and important one for the parents board. We welcomed the University’s new president, Dr. Sally Mason, to our meetings and were able to communicate to her the concerns and issues facing parents and to assure her of our commitment to a close, collaborative relationship with UI administration, faculty, and staff.
Two widely discussed issues on campus also were of particular concern to the parents board: the arming of campus police officers and alcohol abuse. The former involved a comprehensive security assessment of the state’s three Regents universities. Shortly after the Virginia Tech shootings last year, a report was presented to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. One recommendation was to arm campus police officers, professionals who are trained and certified to carry firearms. (Although UI police officers were able to retrieve firearms from a locked cabinet if needed, Iowa was the only school in the Big Ten Conference with unarmed officers.)
After receiving input from University officials, and after thoughtful and careful consideration, the parents board unanimously passed a resolution supporting this policy change and sent a letter to President Mason, who was preparing to discuss the issue before the Regents. The Regents approved the change in October, and campus police now carry firearms in their daily duties.
The second issue before the parents board was the effort on campus and in Iowa City to curb excessive alcohol use and binge drinking by students. Last fall a group of concerned Iowa City residents proposed a city ordinance that addressed the admission of underage individuals to local bars. The ordinance would have restricted admission to bars after 10 p.m. to those of legal drinking age. (Currently, 19- and 20-year-olds can enter the bars at any time even though they are not of legal drinking age.) After considerable discussion and review of the written material, the parents board passed a unanimous resolution in support of the proposed ordinance and sent a letter to major newspapers in the area.
In the November election, Iowa City voters, including many newly registered students, rejected the ordinance. Bars will remain open to individuals 19 and older; the University and the parents board, however, continue efforts to reduce alcohol abuse among students. The parents board financially supported the AlcoholEdu program, a mandatory, online educational program for incoming first-year students. Additionally, the University recently broke ground on a state-of-the-art exercise and wellness facility that will enable students to more easily adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
As parents, the health and safety of our students is our primary concern. Students themselves report a very high incidence of binge drinking. We believe the potential consequences of such behavior to be serious and far-reaching, and it is our plan to work in partnership with University administrators and staff to discourage this pattern on campus and in the lives of our students.
Parents or family members with suggestions or input on any issue are encouraged to contact board members or our on-campus liaison, Belinda Marner, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-335-3557. And, if you are interested in serving on the advisory board, please let us know.
We wish all members of the Hawkeye family a wonderful, healthy summer with your students, and we extend our best regards to each of you.