Initiative to bring affordable professional dress options given green light by UISG

UISG passed legislation to fund a clothing bank to operate out of the IMU where students can access professional clothes for free.


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Ashle

The Iowa Memorial Union as seen Monday, Oct. 9th 2017. (Ashley Morris/The Daily Iowan)

Sarah Watson, [email protected]

Professional dress is often required for interviews, class presentations, and student-organization events, but for some students, professional clothes are not affordable.

With funding that the University of Iowa Student Government approved Tuesday, plans were set in motion to give UI students access to professional clothes at no cost.

UISG allocated $7,700 from its contingency fund in a bill titled “Clothing Closet at Iowa Initiative” which passed unanimously at Tuesday night’s meeting.

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The funding will go toward a Clothing Bank in which students will be able to have access to new or donated professional clothes from a venue located in 207 IMU, near the Food Pantry.

Clothes will be free to any student with an active student ID.

“Students can pick out clothing they need and take it home at no cost,” legislation sponsor Sen. Lindsey Meyer said while presenting the legislation.

Logistics are still being worked out, legislation sponsor Akash Bhalerao said.

“There will be a steering committee set up to work on figuring out finer details and rolling out the initiative,” Bhalerao said.

The Pomerantz Career Center and Graduate Student Government both plan to contribute funds to the initiative, adding $5,000 and $2,300, respectively, to total $15,000. Other partners on the steering committee will include the Tippie College of Business, the Food Pantry, the IMU, and the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership.

Details such as an opening date, what type of clothes will be ordered, and where precisely the clothes will come from have yet to be decided by the steering committee.

“We have to make sure all the ducks are in a row,” UISG Director of Academic Services Kyle Scheer said.

UISG sent out a survey on its Facebook page Monday to assess the need for access to professional clothing. The eight-question survey asked participants about most what clothing would be the most useful, and how often the respondent needs professional clothing.

A mass email will be sent out with the survey later this week to assess student needs.

“The demand is there, and it’s steady,” Scheer said. “The rising cost of college makes it more difficult for students to get the resources they need to be successful in school and the workplace. Professional clothing is essential … this will enable students to put their best foot forward.”

Students will also be able to donate clothes, encouraging a way for students to recycle clothing.

“Clothing Closet will be a good deal for students as well as the environment because it promotes sustainability,” Bhalerao said.

The Pomerantz Center website lists professional clothes as a pantsuit or skirt suit. Each, industry, however, may have different requirements for interview attire.

The UI also sponsored a “Suit Up” event for students to buy professional clothes at a discount one night in September. For the event, JC Penney closed to the public and allowed UI students to shop at a 40 percent discount on all professional clothes in the store.

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