The University of Iowa

New UI shirts speak volumes about global reach

December 16th, 2010

By Erin Jordan, The Gazette
Photo by Karina Schroeder

IOWA CITY – Looking for a University of Iowa camiseta for your hermana? You’re in luck.

The University of Iowa recently launched a line of foreign language T-shirts that proclaim the University of Iowa in Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic.

The number of international students prompted the University Book Store to order the black-and gold shirts, sold in adult sizes for $15. A record 2,825 international students are enrolled at the UI this fall, with about 9 percent of the UI’s freshmen class hailing from another country.

‘I think it will attract some Chinese students, particularly the freshmen,’ said Yuyang Wang, a UI junior psychology major from China. ‘They will see something that is familiar to them in their language.’ The UI has hawked more than 200 shirts in six weeks, with the biggest seller being the Spanish Universidad de Iowa , said Richard Shannon, bookstore general manager. The shirts are prominently displayed in the bookstore at the Old Capitol Town Center, where Shannon hopes some people will pick them up for Christmas gifts.

‘We think they will be hits for both international students and students studying abroad,’ said John Rigby, UI student government president.

Student government leaders and bookstore management made separate trips last summer to Ames, where they spied foreign language T-shirts for sale at the Iowa State University Bookstore. ISU started selling their cardinal-and-gold shirts for $12 in August, said Amy DeLashmutt, marketing manager for the store.

‘We made a decision just to order languages where we had a large number of students enrolled,’ she said. The Arabic shirts have sold out, and the inventory of Chinese, Korean and Spanish shirts is shrinking, DeLashmutt said.

ISU also set a record for international enrollment with 3,327 students this fall.

Scott King, director of the UI International Student & Scholar Services, said the T-shirts send a good message to foreign students in Iowa.

‘It really shows a nice openness to the population we have here,’ said King, who plans to take some Arabic shirts with him to a conference in the Middle East in April.

Students from China, India and South Korea make up the bulk of the foreign students at UI, but there are also students from the Middle East, Latin America, Turkey and Asia.