UI student governments outline resources for students affected by COVID-19 spread

In light of further action taken by the University of Iowa as COVID-19 spreads, the student governments outlined resources for Hawkeyes in need of support.


Tate Hildyard

UISG meets in the Blackbox Theater in the Iowa Memorial Union on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020. UISG is going to Des Moines on Wednesday to advocate for the UI, specifically through medical amnesty (a law that allows students who are underage to call an ambulance and not be persecuted for the well underage drinking stuff) and renting issues.

Charles Peckman, Senior Reporter

The two University of Iowa student government branches in a message Friday outlined resources for students affected by the spread of COVID-19 and resulting closures of businesses and residence halls, and the move to online instruction for the spring semester.

The email, signed by Graduate and Professional Student Government President Dexter Golinghorst and UI Student Government President Noel Mills, thanked students for their “resilience and flexibility” as the novel coronavirus pandemic evolved to its current state. Although many students call Iowa City “home,” the message urged students to remain in their hometowns.

“It is currently in the best interest of public safety for us to remain in or move back to our hometowns,” the message said. “If you are able and comfortable, we strongly encourage you to return or stay at your permanent residence and not return to Iowa City. This is especially important given the critical health care provided by our partners at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and anticipated surges and strains on health care in our community.”

In addition to regulatory measures such as drive-up WiFi for those who need a high-speed connection, the email also emphasized the expansion and re-purposing of the Emergency Support Fund. The fund is already supported by GPSG and UISG annually, but the message said the student governments and alumni donors have allocated additional funding.

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A specific dollar figure was not mentioned, but the message said students who have been adversely affected by COVID-19 — through job loss or inability to pay monthly bills, for example — are invited to apply for funding.

The UI also announced the cancellation of spring commencement on Wednesday and said officials are exploring options for alternative celebrations for traditional cap-and-gown ceremonies. The student governments, along with the Provost’s Office, are working on commencement alternatives and are seeking suggestions through an electronic form, the email said.

The student leaders’ message ended by emphasizing the need to be kind to one another. The email said xenophobic rhetoric — often geared toward Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans and international students from Asia — has seen an increase as people seek to pinpoint a source of blame for the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We strongly condemn this unacceptable behavior in all forms,” the message said. “COVID-19 does not discriminate between hosts based on race, ethnicity, nationality or immigration status. As members of the Hawkeye community, we expect that you will treat everyone with respect and not engage in discrimination or harassment.”

Follow the DI’s coverage of the spread of COVID-19 and find resources here