Guest Opinion | Pesticides report must be released

The University of Iowa Environmental Coalition leaders write that the UI should take clear and transparent steps to decrease pesticide use on campus.


Katie Goodale

A sign warning students to stay off the grass sits on the Pentacrest on Sept. 4, 2019. Despite the warning about chemical treatment, some students continue to sit.

The University of Iowa Environmental Coalition (UIEC) is the longest running and well-respected sustainability organization on campus. As a group of student activists, we take on many initiatives to make our campus and the Iowa City community a better and more environmentally friendly place to live. In August of 2019, the Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE) and the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC) hired a project lead intern to focus on research surrounding pesticide use on campus. The main goal of this position was to create a fact sheet about what pesticides are being used, where, and how much. When finding out about this, UIEC was excited to see initiative taken from the OSE and CHEEC to address the concerns about pesticide use that we and many other environmental groups had. We are now writing this letter to address the OSE and CHEEC about our concerns.

It is October of 2020, and the pesticides-focused intern is no longer working for the university, as her job has finished as well as the report. However, the pesticides report has not been released to the public. University of Iowa Environmental Coalition’s main goal this year is to address pesticide use on campus, but we have encountered several roadblocks due to the OSE and CHEEC not releasing the report. This is very troubling to us, because every year students sit on the Pentacrest grass that has been sprayed with chemicals, potentially endangering the health and wellbeing of our community. This is especially concerning considering the use of neonicotinoids in some areas of the University of Iowa campus, which have been proven to have a devastating effect on bees, birds, and other wildlife.

The University of Iowa Environmental Coalition calls on the OSE and CHEEC to release the pesticides report to the public and be held accountable for the environmental damage they have caused by not releasing the report sooner. Our demands include:

  • The hiring of a new pesticides intern to continue to address pesticide use on campus.
  • The release of the pesticides report by Oct. 30.
  • Clear steps taken by the OSE and CHEEC to decrease the use of pesticides on campus by the end of the 2020-21 academic year.

We are prepared to organize protests, demonstrations, and anything else necessary if these demands are not met. We take the safety of our communities seriously and will not stand by silently while our community is in danger.

If UI Administration, the Office of Sustainability, CHEEC or anyone in the community wants to reach out to us, email our co-presidents, Jake Burr and Emily Manders, at [email protected] and [email protected]​.

—The University of Iowa Environmental Coalition

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