‘Bye Bye Bruce’ event brings demands to Board of Regents’ door

With the recent selection of new University of Iowa President Barbara Wilson, University of Iowa students and staff hosted an event to celebrate the retirement of current UI President Bruce Harreld, and to demand Wilson meet the six action items they listed.


Grace Smith

The Iowa Freedom Riders, Iowa Student Action, Sunrise Iowa City Hub, the Coalition of Graduate Students, and community members gather around the house of Iowa City Board of Regents member, David Barker, and continue their rally that was held on the Pentacrest saying goodbye to former University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld on Friday, April 30, 2021. At the rally, speakers and community members advocated for changes to be made to the University including defunding the UI police department, freezing tuition, and becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

Claire Benson, News Reporter

Four activist groups in the University of Iowa and Iowa City community hosted a “Bye Bye Bruce” event tonight to celebrate the retirement of current UI President Bruce Harreld and demand that newly selected president Barbara Wilson acknowledge and implement policies advocated for by students. 

The event began at 4:30 p.m., drawing a crowd of close to 75 attendees, and was held at the Old Capitol Building. 

The four groups – Iowa Student Action, Iowa Freedom Riders, Coalition of Graduate Students, and Sunrise Iowa City Hub – also included their six demands for newly selected UI President Barbara Wilson to implement. 

Wilson was named the next president of the UI on Friday afternoon, with the state Board of Regents announcing the selection.

Wilson’s term will begin on July 15 and will go until June 30, 2026, with her annual salary being $600,000.

The six demands include defunding the University of Iowa Police Department, implementing a $15 minimum wage for all campus employees, becoming carbon neutral by 2030, freezing tuition, keeping the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcements off campus, and providing benefits for all workers. 

“Our school, our city, our power,” attendees chanted, wanting to raise the voices of UI students and staff in regards to decision making at the university.  

The rally marked an exit for Harreld, whose last day is May 16.  Harreld came to campus as an academic outsider in 2015, and the search ended in sanctions placed on the UI targeted at the regents for the handling of the search – violating shared-governance practices by disbanding the search committee early.

From a rocky start, Harreld built relationships with shared governance leaders throughout his tenure, leaders told the DI, though still endured his fair share of protests.

This summer, racial justice protesters marched to Harreld’s house and faculty protested for better sick-leave and better treatment of non-tenure-track faculty. 

At a regents meeting on Thursday, the nine-member board recognized the outgoing Hawkeye for establishing the public/private partnership between the UI and a private energy conglomeration for operations of its utilities system.

The event involved several students and staff members sharing their experiences at the UI, both positive and negative, while advocating for the six demands to be met.

UI first-year student Abinadi Rivera recalled when UI Police were one law enforcement agency that tear gassed protesters in June 2020, a reason as to why she thinks the university police department should be defunded. 

The event organizers also called for the state Board of Regents to acknowledge their demands and actively listen to student voices. 

“Our community is so much bigger than nine people,” Rivera said while talking about the nine members of the Board of Regents.

An hour after the event began, at 5:30 p.m., the group began marching from the Pentacest towards Board of Regents member David Barker residence.

The 30 minute walk ended with the group gathering outside of Barker’s residence, chanting his name and asking him to come outside and acknowledge the list of demands. 

Organizers and supporters wrote chalk messages on the sidewalk and street in front of his house, listing their demands and advocating for change to the UI.

Ending at 6:20 p.m., the event lasted just shy of two hours, with organizers leaving the group with a reminder.

“This is just the beginning.”