The University of Iowa

Cross-campus initiative provides free international shipping for textbooks

February 2nd, 2021

As COVID-19 evolved and progressed in the U.S. through 2020, many international students chose to return to their home countries and take a full course load of online classes. While they remain separated by the pandemic, the UI is committed to staying connected with its students no matter where they are. Thanks to the feedback and concerns shared by student organizations, such as the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB), the UI has been able to provide accommodations and resources for international students to address the challenges they face when learning remotely from their home countries. A new cross-campus collaboration will be covering all international textbook shipping from the Hawk Shop for the Spring 2021 semester. 

In a meeting with the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), Mishma Nixon, chair of ISAB, raised concerns about some international students not being able to obtain required course textbooks. In many countries outside of the U.S., students don't have the same access to Amazon or similar purchasing websites. In the previous semester, some of them had to drop classes due to the lack of required textbooks. Additionally, international shipping for textbooks, which usually costs up to $80, has caused financial hardship for some students. 

Image of Regan Smock

Regan Smock

Right after learning about this issue, Regan Smock, director of academic affairs from the USG, brought it to the Office of the Dean of Students (DOS). Angie Reams, associate vice president and dean of students, acted quickly and found money from the Student Emergency Fund to cover international shipping for textbooks ordered from the Hawk Shop. Students can submit a request to the Student Emergency Fund to obtain reimbursement if they are not able to obtain free shipping through a vendor other than the Hawk Shop. Based on the number of enrolled international students out of the country and the estimated cost for international shipping, DOS determined a budget of approximately $8,000-10,000.

Image of Angie Reams

Angie Reams

Reams is thankful for the continued support and advocacy of USG and student organizations. “I also appreciate our students’ willingness and ability to share feedback and concerns, so our student governments and various UI support offices are able to collaborate and determine the best options for our students,” says Reams.

“This project represents the type of cross-campus collaboration—DOS, USG, International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)—that can serve as a model for future partnerships,” says Russ Ganim, associate provost and dean of International Programs. 

“I seriously had a lot of fun to work with Mishma and all of the awesome people from DOS, the Hawk Shop, and ISSS who helped spread the word,” reflects Regan Smock. “I hope that it has helped our students have a little more normal semester!”