Walking in a circular rotation below the skywalk that connects Howe Hall and Hoover Hall, about 75 protesters wanted their voices heard.

This event was organized by the Young Democratic Socialists of America and Student Action. At least 14 similar events were hosted on campuses across the country.

From Howe Hall, down Bissell Road and partially down Osborn Drive, their march attracted many onlookers who stopped to watch protesters or even take out their phones and record the march.

“We are standing in solidarity for free college for all,” said Javier Miranda, a former Iowa State student.

Miranda said that during his time at Iowa State, he knew the process to obtain his degree was becoming too intense for him. Coming into college, Miranda said his friends that came to school with him had eventually dropped out and realized he was the only one left.

Eventually to help process, Miranda changed his major in hopes of alleviating some stresses.

“In a school of 36,000, I felt really alone,” Miranda said. “I ended up failing out of school.”

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The Iowa Student Action Group protest tuition and student debt with chants and signs on campus Oct. 15. 

According to Student Action, the protest was to demand free public higher education for all.

While marching, students were chanting some of the demands including free public education, a call for a tuition freeze and asking for three members of the Board of Regents to resign from their positions.

The three Board of Regents board members have ties to private student loans, according to the students.

“By our tuition raising, they are benefiting from [students] taking out more loans,” said Paige Oamek, a student from Grinnell College who traveled to Ames for the protest.

The reasoning behind their location for their protest was due to the current construction site of the Student Innovation Center, which is slated to be built in 2020.

“It’s an 84 million dollar project of which 40 million dollars of it is a state appropriated money,” said Katie Sinn, senior in software engineering.

“They decided to fund this big construction project on campus,” Sinn said. “The money is there; it’s just not being prioritized for students.”

Rob Schweers, director of communications in the office of the senior vice president and provost office, reached out to the Iowa State Daily to provide information of the funding of the Student Innovation Center.

“It is important for readers to know that tuition increases are not financing construction of the Student Innovation Center. The Center is being financed through the combination of state investment ($40 million, approved in 2015), and philanthropic gifts ($44 million),”  Schweers said in an email.

Miranda said that his graduate student friends said how they are not given funding to conduct research because they are told that there is not money to be made.

“This plan of all this money to attract private donors, when they don’t need to be attracting private donors, they could fully fund higher education,” Miranda said. “We could have tuition covered, several years of residency could be covered, [and] we could have major public funding for research.”

Oamek said that the fight for free education will be a fight for all people not just Iowa students.

With Grinnell College’s student chapter being around longer, Oamek said they were able to help offer resources to Iowa State when starting up the protest.

“Grinnell’s organizing on campus is alive and well,” Oamek said. “Making those connections across the state is a first for us and also that’s why this action is important showing solidarity from all students in the state.”

Klarissa Gonzalez, sophomore in aerospace engineering, could relate with other protesters. Gonzalez said that she and her family struggle to pay for her college expenses. Even though she is an out-of-state student, Gonzalez said that the expenses for her program would cost more at an in-state institution.

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The Iowa Student Action Group protest tuition and student debt with chants and signs on campus Oct. 15. The students were "calling attention to the $84 million dollar development project that will soon become the new Student Innovation Center. The project was approved by the board of regents at the exact same time as the announcement of a 7 percent tuition hike last year," according to a press release from Student Action.

Gonzalez, who identifies as a person of color and a part of the LGBT community, said that she wants to see more people from her communities represented on campus.

“In aerospace [engineering] I don’t get my voice heard a lot, so being here they give me my voice and I’m glad about that,” Gonzalez said.

(1) comment

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