UI CLAS urges state Board of Regents to enact COVID-19 mandates

The University of Iowa’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences urged the administration and the state Board of Regents to implement mask and vaccine mandates, citing the health and safety of the UI community on Friday.


Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan

The Old Capitol building is seen on March, 6, 2021.

Ryan Hansen, News Reporter

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Faculty Assembly issued a statement urging UI administration and the state Board of Regents to impose a mask and vaccine mandate Friday.

The assembly called for immediate implementation of a mask mandate and requested a vaccine mandate by Nov. 8, the first day of early registration for the spring 2022 semester. The statement also calls for more flexibility in the modality of instruction in all College of Liberal Arts and Sciences courses.

The state Board of Regents, which governs the UI, has no mask or vaccine mandate on Iowa’s public college campuses. The regents can require masks on campus, but a law signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds in May prohibits any government agency from requiring vaccines, according to the regents’ reading of the law.

Chair of Faculty Assembly Amber Brian said in an interview with The Daily Iowan that Friday’s emergency meeting was requested by her members early last week to discuss their concerns. After a 2-hour session, the statement was unanimously approved, but as Brian clarifies, it doesn’t alter current COVID-19 policies in the college.

“It is a statement of concern,” Brian said. “It is to some extent a request, but we as a body don’t have powers to implement these changes in policy.”

During the meeting, members noted feelings of frustration and fear in their department. Some were also vocally against continuing to follow the regents’ guidance from May.

Eric Stone, the head of the UI theater arts design program and associate professor, said that the current spread of the delta variant was much different from that of the original strain of COVID-19.

“Policies made by the Board of Regents in May 2021 are putting our campus and community at risk, given what we now know about the delta variant,” Stone wrote in an email to the DI.

Brian said the statement would be delivered to College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Sarah Sanders, Provost Kevin Kregel, and President Barbara Wilson.

“We’re in a moment of continued conversation and dialogue,” Brian said.