The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI students help design English, creative writing departmental merchandise

The two departments answered student demands by offering limited major-based merchandise online.
The+English-Philosophy+Building+at+the+University+of+Iowa+is+pictured+on+April+5%2C+2021.
Grace Smith
The English-Philosophy Building at the University of Iowa is pictured on April 5, 2021.

Whether it’s women’s basketball sweatshirts or classic University of Iowa crewnecks, students around campus are constantly seen wearing UI apparel.

The UI’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has now joined the merch trend as majors — such as English, English and creative writing, journalism, and speech and hearing science — have begun to introduce opportunities for students to purchase merchandise. The English department received a total of 175 orders for their first merchandise offer.

Major-based merchandise is nothing new to the UI’s student body. Programs such as nursing, business, and engineering have been offering hoodies, sweatpants, and hats to students for years.

 In December 2023, the UI’s English department released a limited online shop where students could order a variety of sweatshirts, t-shirts, and tote bags that sported departmental logos.

“I wanted to support the English department and I’ve seen merch for the business school and things like that,” Olivia Bishop, a UI first-year English and creative writing major, said. “I always thought [having merchandise] would be cool, especially because Iowa is known for its writing.”

Because many of the university’s stores do not offer major-based clothing, departments and organizations have had to independently produce and design merchandise through websites.

Alison Tracy, a UI second-year speech and hearing graduate student and co-fundraising chair of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association, or NSSLHA, worked with colleagues and Greek House, an online apparel shop, to set up an online shop with personalized designs.

“We came up with our own designs which made our job fun,” Tracy said. “We kind of drew the design on a piece of paper and then went to these different businesses that created the merch, and then we were like ‘Would this be something possible to make?’ and they’d say yes or no.”

Tracy, along with fellow NSSLHA co-fundraising member Carolyn Burchfield, collaborated to bring speech and hearing majors a variety of merchandise that highlighted student drawings of Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center and other speech-language pathology logos.

RELATED: Student Spotlight: UI freshman create game day merchandise

Before contacting Greek House and other web stores, Tracy sent out a poll to gain student interest. Upon seeing the positive responses, she set an estimated minimum quantity for each product. Anything left over was purchased by NSSLHA and is being handed out through raffles at club meetings.

“I think many liberal arts departments realize their students are proud of being in that department and want to let folks know,” Kate Torno, a senior academic advisor for CLAS, wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan.

Torno wrote that some English students are looking for major-specific apparel rather than sports apparel.

Although there are several regulatory steps to providing students and alumni access to merchandise, the main goal is to build a sense of community, Torno wrote.

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About the Contributor
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
she/her/hers
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.