The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Some graduations may not shake out

Peter Kim
UI president Bruce Herald listens to the other panelists at the Old Capitol Museum on Monday, May 2, 2016. The panels discussed numerous topics including social justice and themed semester program. (The Daily Iowan/Peter Kim)

University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld may see a lot of rejection at this year’s graduation ceremonies.

A movement is spreading around campus that asks seniors to not shake Harreld’s hand as they receive their diplomas at College of Liberal Arts & Sciences commencement on Saturday.

Graduating senior Kelli Ebensberger said she will not shake Harreld’s hand because it is a statement she can make given the power she holds as an undergraduate.

“For me, Harreld is a symbol of a bigger problem,” she said. “It’s a broken system of Iowa governance, and if we had the chance to not shake [state Board of Regents President] Bruce Rastetter’s or [Gov.] Terry Branstad’s hands as well, then we wouldn’t.”

Ebensberger said she does not agree with Harreld’s support for a tuition increase and his lack of action to get funding from the state.

“And I’m not going to shake his hand because he had no part of my degree,” she said. “I’m going to shake the hands of those who actually had a part of my education.”

Ebensberger said she and organizations such as Iowans Defending Our Universities are spreading information both by word of mouth and through social media. She said most of her friends are planning to participate, but her reach is only limited to her network of psychology and English students.

“At the least, it’s going to be a loud statement, if not large,” she said.

The regents selected Harreld as the new UI president last fall; he had an approval rating of less than 3 percent. This no-handshake gesture is just one of the many ways some of the campus community has been expressing dissatisfaction with Harreld’s leadership.

“We hope it raises awareness of the illegitimacy of Harreld’s presidency,” UI student Brad Pector said, who is involved with Iowans Defending Our Universities and other organizations protesting this issue. “The UI Faculty Senate and the UI Student Government voted no confidence, yet he is still here.”

Graduating senior Abigail Thomas said she was planning not to shake Harreld’s hand even before the idea began to spread. She said she feels that Harreld is not willing to make meaningful changes on campus to combat such issues as racism and staff retention.

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About the Contributor
Katelyn Weisbrod, Projects Editor
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @katelyn_eliz Katelyn Weisbrod is the Projects Editor at The Daily Iowan. Katelyn is a senior at the University of Iowa and has been a part of the DI since her freshman year. She covered sustainability and environmental issues as a news reporter for one year, and served as news editor for a year. As managing editor, she focused on digital strategy and production of long-form articles, while still reporting on environmental issues.