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Heated exchanges at UI President Bruce Harreld's first town hall

Heated exchanges at UI President Bruce Harreld's first town hall
Heated exchanges at UI President Bruce Harreld's first town hall
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Even before Bruce Harreld took the president's job at the University of Iowa, he faced a lot of scrutiny over his background.

Then, once on campus, he promised to better connect to the University's community.

He used that opportunity on Tuesday night, but it only took 20 minutes before the first outburst during Harreld's first town hall meeting.

That outburst quickly turned to group-led chanting and one woman who sat up front to taunt the president, who has only served 120 days on his new job.

Throughout all the chaos, Harreld kept his objective, saying real work has to be done to make the university the best it can be.

"I hope people actually looking at that data, seeing what it means to them and start to have a conversation about what we should do about it," Harreld said.

Even after the interruptions and Harreld's attempt to continue, some still wouldn't let him get too far into the University of Iowa's ranking against other schools.

"I frankly think we got through most of what I wanted to accomplish," Harreld said. "I expected protestors; I actually went out and helped them pass out their leaflets ahead of time."

The smiles and the helping hand didn't deter those who came to the meeting with one purpose in mind - to get their questions answered.

"It's really problematic when the president of a major university refuses to answer questions about his sexist behavior or when he uses jargon to respond to concerns about black student issues," Ruth Bryant, spokesperson for the protestors, said. "It's really upsetting."

"This issue of diversity, particularly on a campus and particularly here in Iowa, I don't think there's a more important issue than that one," Harreld said. "It's right up there with faculty salary."

When protestors finally retired their signs and the crowd started to calm down, the finale was just around the corner.

One of the protestors stood in front of the microphone and declared "Operation Fire Harreld" as a mission to get rid of the current president.

Harreld said he respects the opinions of the protestors, but as president, he said he still has work to do.

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"Protests are fine but when are we gonna start the conversation and start moving forward?" Harreld said.

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