Letter to the editor: The UI president and provost are already failing on COVID before the semester begins

The Old Capitol Building on the University of Iowa Pentacrest. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

By Caleb Klipowicz, Iowa City

By siding with the Iowa Board of Regents against the safety and well-being of our community, incoming President Wilson and Provost Kregel have already failed at preventing outbreaks of COVID-19 this fall. Families, students, campus labor unions and academic departments across campus are begging for stricter policies to prevent outbreaks of COVID. Students and workers like me are terrified what will happen without adequate precautions in the classroom. Meanwhile, Iowa City is re-entering civil emergency status in light of the Delta variant, declaring city-wide mask mandates that include university buildings. And yet, Wilson and Kregel have only doubled-down on their decision to not place even rudimentary protections like requiring masks and vaccines on campus. They instead defer to the Board’s unscientific decision in May to lift nearly all COVID protections, which have yet to be reinstated.

Last spring, the public had a chance to ask presidential candidates questions in a public forum. One question I posed (though it was not selected in the forum) was, “Will you stand up to the Board of Regents on behalf of students and staff?” Although the question wasn’t selected in the forum then, we have our answer now. President Wilson and Provost Kregel have made it clear they will give into whatever the Board asks, regardless of what it might cost our school and our community.

University of Iowa President Barbara J. Wilson introduces herself to the UI community in a video on July 15, 2021.

The good news is, it’s still not too late. There is still time for the University of Iowa to change course before outbreaks spread through our town and classrooms. There is still time to contact the office of the president and demand they put community safety over the Board’s reckless politics. Even better yet, there is time for the public to contact the Board of Regents directly and demand the Board exercises their legal authority to instate public health precautions at all three state universities immediately. Otherwise, we must brace ourselves for yet be another painful, dangerous and disruptive semester at the University of Iowa.

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