CEDAR FALLS — A group of students are asking the state board that oversees the three state universities to host public meetings with students on the campuses in Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City. Sara Castro, a Grinnell College student, said students of color are experiencing a rise in racism and are finding it more difficult to afford tuition.

“We ask that this Board of Regents take us seriously. Last year, you refused to. We’re not asking any more. We’re demanding. Reach out to our staff before the end of the fall semester to schedule these town halls or we promise to shut down every one of your spring semester meetings,” Castro said. “Stop hiding from the students you represent.”

Castro is a spokesperson for “Iowa Student Action,” which is part of a national network of grassroots organizers. Castro addressed the Board of Regents during the public comment period at its meeting in Cedar Falls yesterday. Becky Hawbaker, the  president of the United Faculty — the union at the University of Northern Iowa with about 650 members, said there are problems that must be addressed.

“I’m here to support our students of color and other marginalized students who have organized and who have called this university and others to account for inadequate progress on addressing individual and institutional discrimination on our campus,” she said. “Their social media posts, their town hall meeting this week have all illustrated and given voice to problems and issues we need to collectively hear.”

Last week, UNI’s president formed a committee to investigate allegations of systemic racism on the Cedar Falls campus and come up with plan of action.