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October 22, 2015

Hundreds confront regents over new University of Iowa president

Petition: “Bruce Harreld is not fit to run the University of Iowa”

by Vanessa Miller, The Gazette

 About 500 protestors marched into the Board of Regents meeting on the University of Iowa campus Wednesday, holding signs and demanding that each member be dismissed, along with the president they hired to lead the institution – J. Bruce Harreld.

“Hey hey, ho ho, the Board of Regents has got to go,” the crowd chanted after initially filing silently into the meeting in the Iowa Memorial Union.

After surrounding the board, UI student representatives told the nine regents their demands and handed over the group’s petition, which has amassed more than 1,000 signatures.

“Bruce Harreld is not fit to run the University of Iowa and should be immediately dismissed from the presidency,” according to the petition, which also requests a new “more democratic method” of electing a president that takes into account faculty, student, and community member opinions.

After the students spoke, the crowd erupted in loud applause and then protesters began shouting, “resign, resign.” The board sat mostly quiet during the protest, although Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter halted the board’s discussion about its system-wide efficiency review to acknowledge the protestors and accept their petition.

After the meeting, Rastetter told reporters he has no plans to resign and doesn’t know of any other regents planning to step down. He also stressed that Harreld will start as the UI’s 21st president Nov. 2, and he believes the search process that landed Harreld was fair.

Rastetter said he has received “tons of positive reactions” to Harreld’s meetings with UI constituents.

“The board is moving forward,” he said.

After the protest, its organizer UI student Brad Pector, 21, said he feels the rally served its purpose.

“I wanted to disrupt a little bit and let them see how many people want them gone,” said Pector, an art and English major who started the online petition to oust Harreld and created a new coalition called “Iowans Defending Our Universities.”

Pector said he’s hopeful the turnout will sway the board and to expect more protests and rallies if it doesn’t.

“We’ll keep pressing the Iowa Board of Regents if they choose to do nothing,” he said.

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