Editorial: SIU Alumni: Your Alma Mater Needs Your Help

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Alumni usually flood SIU during homecoming weekend. They’re generally in a terrific mood as they cat
Chris Wissmann

Alumni usually flood SIU during homecoming weekend. They’re generally in a terrific mood as they catch the parade and football game, tour the campus, hit the town afterward, and relive the good times they had as students.

As much as Nightlife doesn’t want to kill the buzz, however, SIU desperately needs help from its alumni right now, and homecoming is the best time to reach them.

SIU enrollment is at its lowest level since 1964, and has fallen thirty-six percent since its 1991 peak. Meanwhile, the state-budget stalemate has seriously hurt SIU. Students and employees alike, to say nothing of the community that serves them, are facing levels of instability and uncertainty that those in at least some other states do not.

SIU, however, despite its demerits, is still a wonderful place to have a great time while earning a quality degree.

Thus, we hope alumni will encourage their children and grandchildren to attend SIU and get the same great educations they received (and then use their presences here as an excuse to return far more often than at homecoming!).

While alumni are visiting the campus, we hope they’ll talk to current students, faculty, and staff to find out how the university is really doing— then write to tell SIU system president Randy Dunn and campus chancellor Brad Colwell what they’ve heard, whether good, bad, or indifferent. Laud successes and demand improvements.

By the way: Don’t allow those administrators, or the Board of Trustees, to passively let SIU continue to waste away. Be aware that phrases like “enrollment sweet spot” signal the administration’s surrender to failure, and don’t accept it. Demand that Dunn and Colwell immediately implement an aggressive campaign designed to fully restore the university’s enrollment.

When they return home we hope SIU’s alumni will call their state legislators, demand they immediately pass a balanced budget that generously funds higher education, and override all gubernatorial vetoes. When that doesn’t happen, we hope alumni will drop the hammer on Election Day, and send those legislators to the unemployment line.

Going one step further, we hope alumni will put together a state-level political-action committee with the mission of lobbying Illinois officials for SIU funding— and defeating at the ballot box the candidates for office who refuse. An additional mission: Use political clout to encourage better decision-making at SIU.

 

Finally, we wish returning alumni an even better weekend than the best ones they had as students— but not so good a weekend that they forget when they return home the essential roles they need to play in rebuilding their alma mater.