Iowa Board of Regents to continue tuition freeze, emphasize campus free-speech policy

    The Iowa Board of Regents will continue its tuition freeze because of hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

    The Iowa Board of Regents will continue freezing tuition and mandatory fees at the state’s three public universities for the spring 2021 semester, president Michael Richards announced during Wednesday’s meeting

    Over the summer, the board voted to approve a tuition freeze for the fall, due to the financial burdens of COVID-19 on students. As the virus continues to create hardships for students, Richards said the board will continue to keep tuition flat.

    However, next fall, it will resume its five-year plan to gradually increase the cost of both in-state and out-of-state tuition.

    “Because of COVID-19, pausing the five-year tuition model for one academic year was the right thing to do, but in balancing the future needs of our institutions, we are planning to resume the five-year tuition plan beginning with the fall 2021 semester,” Richards said.

    Free speech on campuses

    During Wednesday’s meeting, Richards also condemned any violations of free speech on Iowa’s college campuses.

    Iowa Board of Regents Michael Richards said tuition freeze will continue this spring for Iowa’s universities. (Screenshot of Iowa Board of Regents meeting)

    In August, Iowa State University took “corrective action” against a professor who prohibited students from submitting materials that opposed Black Lives Matter, gay marriage, abortion and other social issues, according to the Ames Tribune.

    In October, the University of Northern Iowa student government refused to grant official student organization status to a group that wanted to form a “Students for Life” chapter. UNI President Mark Nook later overturned the decision.

    Richards told the university presidents he expects each them to share how they protect freedom of speech on campus and in classrooms during the Feb. 24, 2021, board meeting.

    “Last year, the board adopted a free speech policy and this board will not tolerate the violation of anyone’s freedom of speech on our campuses,” Richards said.