Six years ago to the day the corrupt Iowa Board of Regents announced the illegitimate appointment of an unqualified and belligerent crony boob as president of the University of Iowa. At the time that appointment came as quite a shock, but as the weeks, months and years passed it became clear that the university and indeed public higher education in Iowa had been and has been fundamentally compromised by politics. While that illegitimate president finally left office three and a half months ago — and that’s a good thing — we just learned from the Gazette’s Vanessa Miller that the university ignored a rape report that was filed with the Iowa City Police Department three weeks before the former president unexpectedly announced his intention to resign last October. In fact, had there not been a series of campus protests over the past few days about that reported rape, it is likely that report would never have come to light — much like similar events which took place at the university in 2018, also under the permanently blind eye of the former UI president. (Likewise, today the Gazette’s Miller also reported that after an earlier unexpected defeat, and the subsequent political packing of the council which delivered that initial rebuke, the Iowa Board of Regents just secured the right to build a massive new hospital complex in North Liberty, after intentionally falsifying the size and nature of that project to the crony-packed council which gave its foregone approval.)
Although the initial shock of that corrupt presidential appointment was disorienting, in retrospect the timing could not have been better. In the summer of 2015 I had been verging on contacting UI about an issue that might prove mutually beneficial in an academic and medical context, but given what I now know those thoughts were grossly naive. Over the intervening six years I learned what I could about UI specifically and higher-ed generally — and along the way probably met the equivalent criteria for a master’s and doctorate in one academic discipline or another — and what I learned was almost universally dispiriting. (As regular readers know, I grew up in and have lived most of my life in Iowa City, where UI is located, so I was not oblivious to the usual problems on a major college campus. But I honestly had no idea how pervasive the corruption is in the ranks of academic administration and by governing boards.)
That said, what a dispiriting six years it has been across the board. The state of Iowa slipped into cultural collapse and is now controlled by arch conservatives and fundamentalists — who, without irony — helped put a degenerate con artist in the White House, then conspired to overthrow American democracy in service of their delusions. Throw in the COVID-19 pandemic and Iowa’s determination to expose as many young children as possible to the virus, even though vaccine approval is on the horizon for kids between five and twelve years of age, plus the ravages of global warming, and a conniving abdication of responsibility by the United States Supreme Court in support of Texas’s subjugation of women, and gosh-golly what’s next?
In that context it has been interesting watching my mind slowly disengage over the past three and a half months from the singular pursuit of tracking events at the University of Iowa. Not that there still isn’t plenty to read, as attested to above, but I no longer feel an obligation to jot it all down and make sure I have the supporting documents and videos, because the narrative arc I was following finally did come to a close. (I’m sure there will be future revelations about the illegitimate president’s tenure, but for now UI is just another bummer in the news.)
What that mental space has given me is a chance to go back and look at old draft posts I was working on in 2015, as well as catch up on clerical and administrative chores I either dropped at the time or subsequently neglected over that six-year span. And as you might imagine, it feels good to be thinking about something other than failed human beings, and to be reconnecting with the positive pursuits I was focused on lo those many years ago. So…where was I?
— Mark Barrett