UPDATE: Protesters converge on Regents meeting at UNI

2012-04-26T19:15:00Z 2012-04-27T10:20:53Z UPDATE: Protesters converge on Regents meeting at UNIBy JON ERICSON, jonathan.ericson@wcfcourier.com and EMILY CHRISTENSEN, emily.christensen@wcfcourier.com Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa --- Board of Regents and university leaders made a quick exit from a regent press conference when several protesters attempted to question them about recent academic cuts on the University of Northern Iowa campus.

Joe Gorton, an associate professor of criminology, specifically asked the Regents to schedule a meeting to discuss the cuts. His request went unanswered. A few dozen of the more than 100 “Rally for the Facts” protesters attended the press conference, which is usually held following the morning and afternoon regent sessions.

The protest started with a rally outside the union. This was the first time the board had met on the campus since Allen announced his plan to close Malcolm Price Laboratory School, the UNI Museums, Print Services and about one-fifth of the school’s academic programs. The board heard a very short update on the closure of Price Lab and the transition of the teacher education program during the morning session.

The protesters, assembled from faculty, student, Price Lab and community organizations opposed to the cuts at UNI, first met outside the Maucker Union. Crowds there fluctuated from 50 people up to 120. Most of them were older than a traditional college student.

Cathy Desoto, leader of the faculty union, used a bullhorn to lead a chant of “unacceptable, unconscionable” as the protest got started.

“I think the thing that upsets me the most is the faculty who have been here for 10, 20, 30 years have been shut out of the process,” Desoto said.

Chris Andrews has children at Price Lab School. He criticized the process that political appointees who sit on the Board of Regents, some without a background in education, have such power to make changes at the university.

“We are here to take our university back. We’re here to take it back from the political annointees,” Andrews said.

Stacy Glascock, another Price Lab parent, said the budget crisis isn’t real, that the university simply has its priorities in the wrong place. In particular, she mentioned that UNI spends too much on administration.

The group then moved inside, where they stood silently at the back of the UNI Maucker Union ballroom while the regents were in session.

“This is part of the American way. I believe it is important for people to demonstrate and show their concern. We read their emails and we’ve seen all their letters,” Lang said, in response to the protesters. “We respected them, as well as we like them to respect us.”

During the press conference Allen said in the next two weeks he should know more about how much money the Price Lab closure would save the university and the one-time savings that will be associated with the faculty buy-out.

Allen said the Price Lab savings is dependent on how the new teacher education program plays out. The university is planning to re-assign at least 20 Price Lab teachers with the university to serve as field experience leaders. The university must have that plan finalized by May 7 so that faculty who qualify for the early separation program would know if they still have a job within the university, Dwight Watson, the dean of the College of Education said Wednesday.

Allen said about 40 tenured faculty have been offered the buyout package. The deadline for that program is April 30, however, participants have seven days to withdraw their request. He expressed some uncertainty about how many termination letters would go out and if any faculty had received them. Courtney Clausen, a tenure-track faculty member, shouted that she had already gotten such a letter.

Though only the media was allowed to ask questions, several protesters did interject when a regent or Allen gave answers they didn’t believe to be true. Many thumped the walls and floors and yelled “shameful” as the Regent and university leadership entered and exited the press room.

Bettina Fabos, an associate professor in communication studies, said Allen could have been a “champion” for UNI.

“He could have gone all over the country saying ‘We are not going to stand it. We are going to fight for the quality of Iowa education,’” Fabos said. “But he didn’t. He just backed off.”

Copyright 2015 Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. Captian Bruisin'
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    Captian Bruisin' - April 27, 2012 4:50 pm
    timbrackett said: "That comment is simply asinine! If we are to compete globally, it is in our best interest to support college education."

    Classic!

    The only time that liberals are interested in being globally competitive is when it's time for tax payers to fund their union delivered failing model of education. YET, when businesses are looking for the same thing, these same elitists call them greedy polluters who hate their employees and the environment.
  2. bbjohnson
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    bbjohnson - April 27, 2012 1:21 pm
    GAR you may want to look at the numbers before commenting. It's not hard to figure out that if UNI "just" eliminated UNI their duplicated DPS dispatch and use BHC Consolidated dispatch and then did not replace the retiring UNI DPS management staff the savings is automatically in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Think of the waste paying highly paid UNI DPS cops to open and close doors. You could hire even a private sector security staff to do that at 1/2 the cost.

    You would think an institute of higher learning that has renowned business college would be able to be run efficiently and able to cost out better methods of doing business.
  3. avee
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    avee - April 26, 2012 5:13 pm
    I wonder if Regent Ruth Harkin flew in to Waterloo for the meeting again on her Gulfstream Aerospace GV-SP (G550) “luxury” private jet. owned by Bank of America, C/O ConocoPhillips Oil. This is the one with two pilots and a personal attendant for the only passenger. This is how the Harkins stay in touch with the regular folks in Iowa.
  4. timbrackett
    Report Abuse
    timbrackett - April 26, 2012 2:48 pm
    biffis50 said: "Love the sign, "We the people support education". Well, there are many of "the people" that do not want to support college education."

    That comment is simply asinine! If we are to compete globally, it is in our best interest to support college education.

  5. GAR
    Report Abuse
    GAR - April 26, 2012 2:10 pm
    If you look at the #'s by contracting out the police at UNI you would end up paying more. UNI PD does a lot more than just ol d police work. They provide a lot more services than the CFPD can provide which UNI must still provide at a cost. So there is no savings and you loose services. And an interesting FYI - the CFPD requests assistance from the UNI PD a lot more than UNI does as CFPD does not properly staff teir dept. THis is an old subject - the city just wanted the state's money. GEt over it!


  6. bbjohnson
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    bbjohnson - April 26, 2012 1:54 pm
    As I have commented before. The Regents, Pres. Ben Allen and VP Mike Hager can save over $1 million dollars annually by contracting out UNI DPS to the CFPD. That allows more money to be spent on those that really educate students The window is now open with UNI DPS Director Zarifis retiring. Don't miss this chance Regents step up and do the right thing.

    I'm surprised that the Courier, NU parents and UNI faculty have not jumped on this band waggon. When you have a highly skilled police force prviding service all around the university, why duplicate the service at taxpayer or student tutition expense? UNI DPS only has 2 offciers on duty most days so if there really was a disaster who would they call to response .... That's right CFPD.

  7. shelley
    Report Abuse
    shelley - April 26, 2012 1:52 pm
    Why haven't you carried the Iowa Senate coverage of giving PLS one year of funding and a study on the true costs of closing the school? I also wish that you would look a little closer at the motivation behind the cuts and the new leadership of Regents. One who has a long standing business relationship with the Koch Brothers. Come on, Courier. You are getting left behind by local bloggers on this story, or don't you care.
  8. biffis50
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    biffis50 - April 26, 2012 1:32 pm
    Love the sign, "We the people support education". Well, there are many of "the people" that do not want to support college education. Many people want those people that are customers of colleges to pay for the costs themselves. Reminds me of the save the earth crowd. Complaining that cars are killing the earth as they drive their cars. If you really believe in what you say put your money where your mouth is. All liberals should sell their cars and walk or ride a bike to work, school, shopping, etc. Or at least save that failed disaster the Chevy Volt. All Dems should be required to buy 1 Volt each. Save the Earth and save the Volt, Comrades!
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