editorial

Editorial: Kudos to Terri Bryant: A Brave but Politically Dangerous Budget Vote

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
Editorial: A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard
Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: A Wary Sister Campus Rejects Carbondale
Editorial: Ass-backward Thinking About SIU’s Fiscal Emergency
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Get Happy! The Festivities of Fall Arrive en Masse
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment Part I
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part II: Improve the Quality of Life
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part III
Editorial: Illinois’s Fiscal Black Hole: The Enemy Is Us
Editorial: Rebuilding SIU Enrollment, Part IV
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Sending a Message to Potential Immigrants: Carbondale Has Your Back:
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Alumni: Your Alma Mater Needs Your Help
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Springs Toward Disaster. Again.
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin
Editorial: SIU’s Stupid Tuition Hike
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: Throwing Shade on Shadow Fest
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Unintended Consequences of Hitting the Publish Button
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Further Freeing the Weed: Keeping Carbondale Kinder and Mellower
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— SIU’s Budget Woes and Local Elections: The Connection Between Two Big Local Stories
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


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It’s a long way to 2018, and a lot can happen before then, but Terri Bryant probably earned reelecti
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

It’s a long way to 2018, and a lot can happen before then, but Terri Bryant probably earned reelection last week when she crossed party lines to vote not only for a state budget but for the tax increase necessary to pay for it. (Technically, the votes came on three bills.) Then she voted with the majority of the legislature to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s vetoes.

For the last two years, the Republican governor refused to sign a budget until the General Assembly first passed his so-called Turnaround Agenda, which the legislature, controlled by Democrats, was never going to okay. Key components of the Turnaround Agenda include curtailing union rights (a Democratic nonstarter), steep pension cuts (which probably are unconstitutional), and term limits (which even Republicans, at least long-serving ones, undoubtedly oppose).

To raise money, the state and its various components, like SIU, can issue bonds, which often incur lower interest rates than bank loans. But because of the budget stalemate and mounting state debt that resulted, rating agencies were about to rate those bonds as junk, which would have caused their interest rates to jump, costing the state millions.

Lord knows how many smaller businesses and not-for-profits that did business with the state have quietly suffered, along with their employees, from the fiscal chokehold that resulted from two years without a state budget. Some have not been paid at all during that time. But the situation caused SIU, the largest employer in Bryant’s district, to publicly lay off employees as a result of lost state funding. Things at SIU would have looked considerably more dire had Illinois gone a third year without a budget, and the severe economic aftershocks would have cascaded throughout the region.

Illinois was even forced to halt the sale of multistate Mega Millions and Powerball lottery tickets because it couldn’t afford to contribute to the jackpots.

Voters can certainly lambast the Republican state representative from District 115 for taking too long to locate her courage— despite the damage the budget deadlock caused to her district, Bryant stayed in lockstep with Rauner during her entire first legislative term.

As she prepared to vote last week, however, Bryant laid out her conservative bona fides. Conservatives hate taxes, she said, and one of the bills on which she voted yes raised Illinois’s individual income-tax rates from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent and the corporate rate from 5.25 percent to seven percent.

“It will hurt small business to do this,” Bryant said. “But I also think it hurts small business when we ask them to do business with the state and then we don’t pay them.”

Moreover, the legislation increased the earned-income tax credit, so many low-income voters might not even notice the new tax rate.

Corporations and individuals who itemize their deductions, meanwhile, can deduct their state income taxes from their federal taxes— they might not notice the tax increase, either.

But they will recognize the results of a stable, functioning state government— whose schools open and operate, whose roads get paved, whose police show up when they’re called, whose parks are not shut down, and whose Medicaid bills get paid. Of course, it’s up to Bryant and her colleagues to connect those things that voters consistently tell pollsters they want with the tax increase required to pay for them.

Meanwhile, conservatives have pounced, something Bryant predicted. “I know, I’m probably going to get primaried on this,” she told the General Assembly.

She won’t be alone. On the tax cut, ten house Republicans slipped Rauner’s leash and voted to override the veto. (Of course, maybe Rauner let them go. There’s a conspiracy theory that Rauner wanted to have his cake and eat it too: Rauner, along with the handful of legislators who voted for the budget but against the tax increase, was trying to derive the benefits of a functional state government while railing against an unpopular tax increase needed to pay for government operations.)

Voters respond to, and thus elected officials face, any number of hot-button issues— abortion, gun control, environmental protection, et cetera. For the record, this writer disagrees with Bryant on nearly all of them. But right now, the signature issue of this legislative session and Bryant’s ongoing term of office was whether the state of Illinois would operate at all. And if Bryant’s vote is immediately unpopular, history should judge it kindly— though that verdict may not arrive in time for either the 2018 primary or election.

 

It better. If Republicans and conservatives treat her vote as an act of betrayal and try to end her political career, Bryant will need to rely on Democrats and liberals to prevent her act of courage from turning into political martyrdom.

Editorial: Throwing Shade on Shadow Fest

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
Editorial: A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard
Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: A Wary Sister Campus Rejects Carbondale
Editorial: Ass-backward Thinking About SIU’s Fiscal Emergency
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Get Happy! The Festivities of Fall Arrive en Masse
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment Part I
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part II: Improve the Quality of Life
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part III
Editorial: Rebuilding SIU Enrollment, Part IV
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Sending a Message to Potential Immigrants: Carbondale Has Your Back:
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Alumni: Your Alma Mater Needs Your Help
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Springs Toward Disaster. Again.
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin
Editorial: SIU’s Stupid Tuition Hike
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Unintended Consequences of Hitting the Publish Button
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Further Freeing the Weed: Keeping Carbondale Kinder and Mellower
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— SIU’s Budget Woes and Local Elections: The Connection Between Two Big Local Stories
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


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What:
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Last week the Carbondale City Council contracted with Saint Louis promoter American Bands Entertainm
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

Last week the Carbondale City Council contracted with Saint Louis promoter American Bands Entertainment to organize the free Shadow Fest in conjunction with the August 21 total eclipse.

The city’s press release promises “six vibrant performances,” but Nightlife immediately heard complaints from indignant local musicians who rightly declared the lineup of tribute and cover bands lame and overpaid.

Unquestionably, Carbondale has considerably greater talent than the city plans to import for the festival, but critics should consider several factors.

First, the city’s greatest priority isn’t entertaining the fifty-thousand people expected to flood in for the eclipse— housing, policing, and feeding them are much more important considerations. After Danny Zelisco Presents, the first promoter with whom the city contracted, failed to land a major act— and as mayor Mike Henry admitted at the June 6 city council meeting, city government waited about a month too long while hoping Zelisco could do so— the council felt it ran out of time and needed to make solid plans with a reliable festival promoter so it could tackle health and safety objectives.

Second, great though it is, people aren’t coming to Carbondale for our music scene— they’re coming for the eclipse. Sadly, such audiences might just find a Fleetwood Mac tribute band more to their liking than homegrown original music.

Even so, however, local musicians will get tons of opportunities during the eclipse to show off Carbondale’s incredible artistic vibrancy. Other festivals are planned at the Old National Bank parking lot, which will feature local and alumni musicians, and on several stages on the SIU campus. Nightclubs, restaurants, and wineries throughout the region will feature local musicians— some have already booked their eclipse dates, and local musicians will dominate those events. The Varsity Center will showcase theatrical performances and readings by local authors.

 

Take heart, then: Those who want authentic tastes of local and regional culture won’t lack for options. On the contrary, the far bigger problem these admirably adventurous souls will have: Getting their fill of everything from the amazing artistic smorgasbord Carbondale and the rest of Southern Illinois will lay before them.

Editorial: Illinois’s Fiscal Black Hole: The Enemy Is Us

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
Editorial: A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard
Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: A Wary Sister Campus Rejects Carbondale
Editorial: Ass-backward Thinking About SIU’s Fiscal Emergency
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Get Happy! The Festivities of Fall Arrive en Masse
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment Part I
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part II: Improve the Quality of Life
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part III
Editorial: Rebuilding SIU Enrollment, Part IV
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Sending a Message to Potential Immigrants: Carbondale Has Your Back:
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Alumni: Your Alma Mater Needs Your Help
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Springs Toward Disaster. Again.
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin
Editorial: SIU’s Stupid Tuition Hike
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Unintended Consequences of Hitting the Publish Button
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Further Freeing the Weed: Keeping Carbondale Kinder and Mellower
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— SIU’s Budget Woes and Local Elections: The Connection Between Two Big Local Stories
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


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When:
On May 24, the Illinois Press Association distributed a misleading editorial filled with self-satisf
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

On May 24, newspapers all over the state ran an editorial titled “Unacceptable,” lambasting Illinois’s ongoing budget deadlock.

One week later, on May 31, the state legislature adjourned without passing a budget— not that it would have mattered, because the governor would have vetoed it anyway.

The same day, SIU’s Carbondale campus chancellor Brad Colwell announced the university would lay off fifty-three employees and not renew the appointments of twenty-six others, effectively leaving about eighty persons unemployed.

And this is hardly the end of it— Colwell’s actions come in response to the previous two years of budgetary gridlock, not to the forthcoming third year.

Meanwhile, the state owes the Women’s Center more than a half-million dollars, which could force its domestic-violence shelter and rape-crisis services to terminate at the end of the month.

Those are only two of many examples of the serious economic and human damage Carbondale faces as a result of Springfield’s game of political brinksmanship.

Thus “Unacceptable” was timely, but the column made three mistakes common to many similar critiques. First, it conflated the state’s debt with the failure to pass a budget. Then it placed equal blame on the two major parties for both problems. Finally, it omitted the role that voters have played by shirking their own civic responsibilities.

The financial crisis is decades in the making, and politicians of both parties heavily contributed to it— and one constant during the last six gubernatorial administrations is Democratic state-house speaker Mike Madigan. During that time, however, while legislators and executives alike routinely violated the state constitution’s balanced-budget provision, spending plans did get passed whether Republicans Jim Thompson, Jim Edgar, or George Ryan, or Democrats Pat Quinn or Rod Blagojevich, served as governor.

What changed was the election of Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican who refuses to sign a budget unless the General Assembly first passes his so-called Turnaround Agenda. Among other things, the Turnaround Agenda obliterates union rights and seeks to radically reduce state pensions (the latter of which is almost certainly unconstitutional).

Both of those right-wing dreams have an impact on the budget, but neither are directly budgetary in nature, and no conscientious Democratic legislator would ever vote for them— that would betray their principles while cutting them off from key supporters. Other Turnaround Agenda items, like the imposition of term limits, probably don’t even have much Republican support.

The far larger problem, however: While Illinois government has run up huge bills, that’s not ultimately the fault of politicians, but of the people who employ them.

We, Illinois’s voters, for years, demanded ever more from our state government— and we refused to pay for any of it. We knew better, or should have, but we kept electing people who promised we could have our cake and eat it too. And we would have destroyed the political careers of anyone who told us the truth or tried to act responsibly while in office: We either needed to cut state-funded programs or raise taxes enough to pay for them.

Poll after poll published by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute bears this out. Voters keep saying that the state should not raise taxes to pay off its debts— instead it should make budget cuts. But voters, usually by sizeable majorities, reject the notion of cuts to education, transportation and road repairs, parks and natural resources, police protection and prisons, social services— pretty much everything the state does.

In the most recent Simon poll, in fact, “Not a single governmental function was targeted by a majority of the voters as places they would support cuts in the agencies’ budgets,” according to a March 17 press release that announced the survey results.

So those who are angry about the lack of a state budget really can blame one person, and that’s Bruce Rauner.

Voters, however, have little right to feel anger toward elected officials because of the government’s debts. Our representatives gave us the government we demanded— and ultimately, that was the government we deserved.

If we’re going to get the government we actually need, we can’t blame anyone other than ourselves for the deep hole we’re in, and we can’t ask anyone other than ourselves to step up and fix it.

Editorial: Ass-backward Thinking About SIU’s Fiscal Emergency

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
Editorial: A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard
Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: A Wary Sister Campus Rejects Carbondale
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Get Happy! The Festivities of Fall Arrive en Masse
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment Part I
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part II: Improve the Quality of Life
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part III
Editorial: Rebuilding SIU Enrollment, Part IV
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Sending a Message to Potential Immigrants: Carbondale Has Your Back:
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Alumni: Your Alma Mater Needs Your Help
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Springs Toward Disaster. Again.
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin
Editorial: SIU’s Stupid Tuition Hike
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Unintended Consequences of Hitting the Publish Button
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Further Freeing the Weed: Keeping Carbondale Kinder and Mellower
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— SIU’s Budget Woes and Local Elections: The Connection Between Two Big Local Stories
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


Who:
What:
Where:
When:
Two weeks ago, SIU system president Randy Dunn told WSIU-FM that the Carbondale campus has “been liv
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

Two weeks ago, SIU system president Randy Dunn told WSIU-FM that the Carbondale campus has “been living for many years with a structural deficit that hasn’t been corrected. In the most simplistic way possible, describing it as having too many programs for now too few students.”

It’s extremely difficult to argue that the Carbondale campus, which has ever-fewer students to serve, isn’t overstaffed.

Between 1991 and 2015, SIU lost about thirty percent of its enrollment. But during that same time (counting the School of Medicine and excluding graduate assistants and undergraduate employees), the total number of faculty and staff declined by only about ten percent.

In addition to having far fewer students paying tuition and fees, the university is in Gov. Bruce Rauner’s fiscal stranglehold. Rauner has refused to sign a budget for almost two years, choking off state funding for higher education and social services, among other essential government functions. As a result, SIU is looking down the barrel of a $50 million budget cut.

No reasonable person can doubt the math— in the short run, SIU must contract, despite the painful human and economic toll that will take. The budget axe will fall on people who aren’t remotely responsible for the crisis, and that’s not fair, but it may need to happen if the institution will survive to recover and eventually rebuild.

(Layoffs and rebuilding, however, must take place in a strategic fashion. Cuts must come from places that students have abandoned. Upon restoration of sanity in the governor’s mansion, probably two long years from now, SIU probably shouldn’t simply reinstate programs and positions it eliminated during this crisis. Instead, SIU should look to institute new, innovative curricula where it can reasonably expect enrollment growth, perhaps by looking to what the job market demands but other state universities aren’t providing.)

That said, Dunn described the dilemma backward. It’s not that SIU has too many programs for too few students. SIU has too few students for the programs it offers. It’s a distinction with a serious difference.

The way Dunn put it, the way to right the ratio of students to programs is to eliminate programs and the personnel who run them. If he’s thinking about the immediate future, again, that may prove necessary. Nevertheless, while Dunn has a responsibility to face the financial crisis head-on, in doing so he cannot completely demoralize his employees and students or the surrounding area.

Of course, there’s another path forward, one that will tip the balance in far more favorable ways toward everyone in the SIU community— dramatically increase enrollment.

 

By more publicly charting that course, Dunn would at least give hope that SIU can, in fact, rebound. Right now, however, that leadership is as necessary as it appears absent.

Editorial: A Wary Sister Campus Rejects Carbondale

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
Editorial: A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard
Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Get Happy! The Festivities of Fall Arrive en Masse
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment Part I
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part II: Improve the Quality of Life
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part III
Editorial: Rebuilding SIU Enrollment, Part IV
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Sending a Message to Potential Immigrants: Carbondale Has Your Back:
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Alumni: Your Alma Mater Needs Your Help
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Springs Toward Disaster. Again.
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin
Editorial: SIU’s Stupid Tuition Hike
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Unintended Consequences of Hitting the Publish Button
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Further Freeing the Weed: Keeping Carbondale Kinder and Mellower
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— SIU’s Budget Woes and Local Elections: The Connection Between Two Big Local Stories
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


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What:
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SIU is facing a serious financial crisis in no small part because Gov. Bruce Rauner has refused to s
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

SIU is facing a serious financial crisis in no small part because Gov. Bruce Rauner has refused to sign a budget until the General Assembly first passes a series of dumb conservative schemes, misleadingly named his Turnaround Agenda.

Rauner’s stubbornness has choked off funding to Illinois’s higher-education system as well as social-work contractors. As a result, when state money has come SIU’s way, it’s been a fraction of what even other Republican governors have approved.

To guide the university through this emergency, SIU system Randy Dunn and interim Carbondale campus chancellor Brad Colwell proposed a series of painful solutions, including budget cuts of about $50 million.

Part of Dunn’s plan also involved the Edwardsville campus loaning money to the Carbondale campus. As Dunn himself predicted, the Edwardsville campus— students, faculty, and staff— immediately objected. Though eventually they will probably approve Dunn’s plan, the Board of Trustees wound up not acting on the proposal at their meeting last week.

On one hand, Edwardsville employees showed a profound lack of historical perspective. After all, once upon a time, there was only one SIU campus, and it was in Carbondale. The Edwardsville campus was only established in 1957, and for a long time thereafter the Carbondale campus carried what essentially was a glorified community college.

In more recent years, however, the Edwardsville campus has grown rapidly, setting one enrollment record after another. At the same time, the Carbondale campus has shrunk even faster. In terms of student-body headcount, the younger school is now poised to overtake the older one in a few years. In 2015, the Edwardsville basketball team even beat the Salukis at home, a transgression that should have cost Barry Hinson his coaching career.

Edwardsville employees are right to ask why they should enable a failing, dysfunctional campus with a long history of masochistic, self-inflicted wounds.

Shall we recount?

In 1989, the city and university conspired to eliminate the popular Halloween Street Fair, turning what John Guyon (technically at the time his title was Carbondale-campus president) called an incipient riot into a full-fledged riot. A few years later, the university abolished the equally beloved Springfest. Simple reforms would have made both festivals much safer, but puritanical city and campus leaders didn’t want to fix either celebration— ashamed by the immorality of it all, they set their hearts on eradicating SIU’s then-well-deserved party-school image at all costs. Enrollment began its twenty-seven-year circle down the drain.

A few years later, city leaders, supported— or perhaps bullied— by the university, raised the bar-entry age from eighteen to twenty-one. It returned to nineteen a few years later, but further damage was done. A university that once had a reputation for fun now had a reputation, from which it’s never recovered, as a drag.

Then, university leaders accidentally did something smart and hired a great chancellor in Jo Ann Argersinger. Things looked like they were turning around. So of course, with the support of the trustees, SIU’s system president at the time, Ted Sanders, removed her, then five months later he skipped off to another job, leaving behind the open sewer of a mess he created.

After a decent man, John Jackson, served as interim chancellor (and was abused by the trustees as a human shield), Walter Wendler, a religious conservative who once tried to remove condom dispensers from the Student Center, became chancellor.

When he assumed the system presidency, Glenn Poshard removed Wendler, who was a terrible fit for such a freewheeling university, especially after the breath of fresh air that Argersinger represented. But Poshard replaced Wendler with Fernando Treviño, who didn’t even last a year— he was missing in action so often Poshard had to place him on administrative leave until Treviño moved on.

After another interim in Sam Goldman, Poshard brought in Rita Cheng. The faculty instantly despised her. Whether it was the trustees, Poshard, or Cheng calling the shots during contract negotiations, the Faculty Association ultimately went on strike, and Cheng took the blame. She left for Northern Arizona University.

His inability to hire a decent chancellor may have contributed to the trustees’ decision to push Poshard out.

And those are just a few of the lowlights, the top-heavy examples of pure, distilled stupid, not the infinite number of stupidities that seeped down and infested even the bottom recesses of the campus.

But if none of that happened, the Carbondale campus might have grown to a point where— like the University of Illinois, Illinois State, and the Edwardsville campus— it would have a lot more revenue coming in to cushion itself against Rauner’s scorched-earth governorship. Instead, since 1991, the Carbondale campus has lost thirty-six percent of its enrollment (and with it millions of dollars in tuition and fees), draining the student headcount to its lowest level since 1964.

Not that this column visits the sins of Dunn’s and Colwell’s forefathers on them. That’s hardly necessary, because just last fall, on their watch, the Carbondale campus suffered a catastrophic enrollment decline the likes of which nobody can remember.

The Carbondale campus is in the midst of a search for a permanent chancellor, and Colwell is a finalist for the position. While Dunn must expeditiously fill the office, perhaps he might have timed the hiring decision until after the fall 2017 enrollment figures came in. That way, he could evaluate whether Colwell was actually turning the university around. (For that matter, the trustees should have made enrollment growth a key provision of the contact extension they gave Dunn in December.)

 

Suppose the chancellor search is a sham and Colwell gets the job this spring— because, you know, the campus needs stability, even though the loss of 1,305 students from 2015 to 2016 wouldn’t qualify as stability in one of George Orwell’s nightmares. Next— and this doesn’t take a lot of imagination— picture enrollment taking another severe nosedive later this fall. Then everyone from the Edwardsville campus who decried the loan to the Carbondale campus would have felt better about loaning that money to an exiled Nigerian dictator, who might more richly deserve their trust, and whose repayment could prove more secure.

Editorial— SIU’s Budget Woes and Local Elections: The Connection Between Two Big Local Stories

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
Editorial: A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard
Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Get Happy! The Festivities of Fall Arrive en Masse
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment Part I
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part II: Improve the Quality of Life
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part III
Editorial: Rebuilding SIU Enrollment, Part IV
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Sending a Message to Potential Immigrants: Carbondale Has Your Back:
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Alumni: Your Alma Mater Needs Your Help
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Springs Toward Disaster. Again.
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin
Editorial: SIU’s Stupid Tuition Hike
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Unintended Consequences of Hitting the Publish Button
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Further Freeing the Weed: Keeping Carbondale Kinder and Mellower
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


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What:
Where:
When:
It’s possible to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, or really just One, with the two big local stories
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

It’s possible to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, or really just One, with the two big local stories of the past week.

Back on March 29, SIU system president Randy Dunn and Carbondale campus chancellor Brad Colwell released devastating news about how they intend to steer the school through a financial crisis caused by a governor who refuses to sign a state budget. Then, the local consolidated elections took place Tuesday, April 4.

Interest in the elections appeared unprecedented. A bounty of great candidates ran for school board in Carbondale Elementary School District Ninety-five. (Natasha Zaretsky, Catherine Field, Carlton Smith, and Gary Shepherd won seats, while Grant Miller, Lisa Marie Smith, Christopher Payne, and Stephen Compton did not.) For the first time in memory, a contested race for Carbondale Township Road Commissioner resulted in candidates forking out money for advertisements and yard signs. (Bradley Lam defeated Russ Kramer in that race.)

The cause for concern came in the race for Carbondale City Council, where incumbents Carolin Harvey and Jessica Bradshaw retained their seats, while former city manager Jeff Doherty also won. Incumbent Lee Fronabarger lost his seat.

The problem isn’t with who won and lost.

A city of this size, with so many well-educated citizens, should generate more than four council candidates, and inspire far more voters to come to the polls.

People could draw at least two conclusions: One, voters were satisfied by all of the choices, and didn’t feel the need to cast ballots or run for council; or Two, voters didn’t like any of the choices and didn’t feel the cost of running for office was worth the effort.

During the 1990s, I tried to recruit someone to run for city council or mayor. He was a respected local businessman in the community, popular with students, and politically active his whole life. He was a shoo-in; the city could have cancelled the election and just anointed the man.

Unfortunately, in Carbondale, the mayor earns only $9,000 a year, and councilpeople receive $4,200. Those salaries haven’t changed since 1998.

As I saw during my ten years on the city council, if Carbondale’s elected officials take their jobs remotely seriously, even under the city-manager form of government, the mayor’s position is more than a full-time job, and councilpeople will work a minimum of twenty hours a week.

My recruit ran the cost/benefit analysis and decided that the workload wasn’t close to worth the compensation. As a result, the city lost out on his desperately needed leadership. No doubt this scenario has played out too many times since.

Thus, the Carbondale City Council needs to significantly increase its pay. A good mayor, even with a city manager to run day-to-day operations, is well worth $35,000 a year, and councilpeople $15,000.

Per state law, no changes to the pay of elected officials can take effect until after their current terms expire. As a result, technically, council members and the mayor would not give themselves a raise, but whomever wins in subsequent races.

And that might not be the people who vote for a pay increase— such an action is likely to provoke the electorate to angry anti-incumbency. In addition, the city’s union employees will use the situation to demand their own three-hundred percent pay increases. Furthermore, voters should not want candidates running for office just for the money.

These disadvantages, however, will prove more than worth the cost if the result attracts more candidates whose qualifications and visions inspire greater voter participation.

For all the hoopla about how Donald Trump’s election has inspired women to participate in politics— evidenced in January by the massive rally in Washington, D.C. and its local sister version— there’s trouble on the horizon if the consolidated election serves as past to the prologue of the 2018 state election.

About 1,500 persons attended the local women’s march on January 21. Barely more than that— 1,848 of 13,795 registered voters, or 13.4 percent— turned out to cast ballots in the Carbondale City Council election on Tuesday.

True, Trump wasn’t on the ballot, literally or by proxy, and many of the issues that have activated the political left, such as abortion rights, don’t get addressed at the local level.

Trump’s thuggish personality and asinine ignorance have certainly thrown gasoline on the progressive fire. But that flame must burn equally hot for more banal forms of evil, like Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who can do just as much damage to this state as any president can do to the nation.

Rauner has refused to sign any state budget until the General Assembly first passes his Turnaround Agenda, which in no small part would destroy labor unions in Illinois. Meanwhile, social-work organizations that contract with the state and public universities have received only a small portion of the funding that once came their way, regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican occupied the Governor’s Mansion.

The biggest, most public result: SIU’s Carbondale campus will need to cut $30 million from its budget, on top of a $20 million reduction from earlier in the year. In his March 29 message to the campus, chancellor Brad Colwell stated that layoffs are certainly necessary to chop out that much money.

Sucking so much cash that quickly from the local economy will leave nobody in Southern Illinois unscathed. Even people who don’t directly work for SIU— doctors, lawyers, retailers, cosmetologists, accountants, and restaurateurs, from Harrisburg to Murphysboro and down to Anna— end up serving SIU employees and students. In that sense, all of us work for the university, at least a little, however indirectly. Now we can all get ready to kiss goodbye revenue from the sale of all those goods and services.

Rauner and his Republican enablers in the General Assembly better inspire the same voter backlash in 2018 that so many progressives are promising Trump in 2020. That, however, will require the electorate to change the rather pathetic voting behavior exhibited this Tuesday.

 

People need to start voting in every election as if their livelihoods depend on it. Because they do.

Editorial: Sending a Message to Potential Immigrants: Carbondale Has Your Back:

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
Editorial: A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard
Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Get Happy! The Festivities of Fall Arrive en Masse
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment Part I
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part II: Improve the Quality of Life
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part III
Editorial: Rebuilding SIU Enrollment, Part IV
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Alumni: Your Alma Mater Needs Your Help
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Springs Toward Disaster. Again.
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin
Editorial: SIU’s Stupid Tuition Hike
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Further Freeing the Weed: Keeping Carbondale Kinder and Mellower
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


Who:
What:
Where:
When:
A group of citizens (full disclosure: one of whom was my wife) asked the Carbondale City Council to
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

A group of citizens (full disclosure: one of whom was my wife) asked the Carbondale City Council to adopt a measure that prohibits the use of city personnel or money— specifically through the police department— to help Immigration and Customs Enforcement round up or deport illegal immigrants.

Except in specific situations where violent criminals are involved, it’s a great idea.

That’s not to say that illegal immigration, as per liberal orthodoxy, is harmless or victimless, or that Donald Trump’s move to deport people who have illegally immigrated to the United States is wrong on its face.

Ours is a nation of laws. If we don’t agree with those laws, we must change them. Barring that, as the Trump administration certainly will, we must enforce them. That means, in part, deporting the people who have come here illegally.

The reasons for deporting everyday illegal immigrants, however, should not be punitive. Donald Trump’s claims— “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people”— are typically asinine, and his assertion that illegal immigrants have a propensity for violent crime is effortlessly debunked.

Illegal immigrants, however, are subject to horrible abuses in U.S. workplaces— sub-minimum wages and dangerous working conditions among them— because if they speak up or organize into labor unions, employers can retaliate by reporting them to the Immigration and Naturalization Service. (This, in turn, can depress wages of American citizens by creating unfair competition for jobs.) Allowing illegal immigrants to remain here under such conditions is no act of compassion.

Neither, however, is deporting people to nations ruined in large part by full-scale civil wars between fascist government despots and narcoterrorists or religious lunatics. Such dire circumstances could easily kill many people who wait at home while working through America’s slow, complicated immigration system. Little wonder that desperate people will break our laws to come here. We must exempt such refugees from deportation while they try to legitimize their residencies in the United States or elsewhere.

Thus, the real answer to our immigration challenge involves not large-scale deportation and wall construction, but a foreign policy that rewards those nations where people don’t wish to leave en masse. That means, rather than zeroing out foreign aid, helping to stabilize governments that foster peaceful civil societies and empower citizens with the same rights that Americans enjoy.

Meanwhile, however, reports of anti-immigrant violence, perhaps stoked by the cruel sentiments emanating from the White House and other government institutions, are bringing shame to other communities. Carbondale may suffer a serious backlash, though it is largely a welcoming, metropolitan community with significant philosophical and geographical distance between itself and, say, Kansas, where two Indian immigrants were shot.

SIU once boasted one of the largest international enrollments in America. It collapsed after 1992, when an arsonist’s fire killed foreign students at the old Pyramid Apartments. In recent years, however, international enrollment showed signs of slow recovery— a rare bright spot in SIU’s otherwise catastrophic twenty-six-year enrollment plummet.

Should international students— even those with legitimate visas— feel unsafe or unwelcome here, they will refuse to come.

That’s also going to be the case with the internationals SIU hopes to employ as professors or those Southern Illinois Healthcare recruits as physicians. Many local entrepreneurs, most visibly perhaps in the restaurant industry, are immigrants; certainly we should welcome more such investment and diversity in our local economy. And there are the tourists who just pass through, spending a little money here on their way.

These people immeasurably enrich our community— culturally, economically, educationally, medically, and in so many other ways. We cannot afford to lose them.

Of course, every university and municipality in the nation will also face this situation. Last Sunday, National Public Radio reported on a survey of two-hundred colleges that revealed a forty percent decline in applications from international students, for example. But while SIU, for whatever reason, chose not to declare itself a sanctuary campus, the city of Carbondale has a chance to show that it won’t participate in the bullying of its international residents by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

By passing the citizen proposal, Carbondale can stand out by publicly declaring itself as a community that welcomes and protects immigrants. It sends a signal that the people who come here will not get harassed by Carbondale police merely for looking different. This could help police establish relationships among immigrants, who may then feel safer about reporting crimes and cooperating in investigations. And in any event, the Carbondale police have more than enough to do without performing the federal government’s work for them.

 

Consequently, the citizen proposal strikes the right tone for Carbondale, and the city council should pass it.

Editorial: Rebuilding SIU Enrollment, Part IV

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
Editorial: A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard
Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Get Happy! The Festivities of Fall Arrive en Masse
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment Part I
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part II: Improve the Quality of Life
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part III
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Alumni: Your Alma Mater Needs Your Help
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Springs Toward Disaster. Again.
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin
Editorial: SIU’s Stupid Tuition Hike
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Further Freeing the Weed: Keeping Carbondale Kinder and Mellower
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


Who:
What:
Where:
When:
During the last few weeks, as Nightlife ran a series of editorials about SIU’s constant enrollment
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

During the last few weeks, as Nightlife ran a series of editorials about SIU’s  constant enrollment faceplants, several suggestions have come this writer’s direction, albeit not in letter-to-the-editor form.

Rather than increasing tuition to make up for financial shortfalls, as the university’s Board of Trustees did the other week, one reader suggested cutting back on the campus’s highly paid administrators. Unfortunately, though that’s a great idea on general principles, it doesn’t really pencil out as a solution to the loss of state funding due to the budget deadlock.

Assuming the university could get better or equivalent deans for substantially less than what the existing ones are getting paid, for example— a highly dubious prospect, whatever anyone thinks of the current crop— there’s not a lot of savings to be had there, because, counting the graduate, law, and medicine schools, SIU only has twelve deans.

That also means that merging, say, the College of Liberal Arts with the College of Communications and Media Arts won’t result in much savings, either.

A search through the Illinois Board of Higher Education’s Public University Administrator and Faculty Salary and Benefits Database reveals only about twenty SIU employees who make more than $200,000 a year— and SIU actually pays a handful of professors more than some deans and vice chancellors. Cut all of those salaries in half and the result won’t come anywhere close to approaching the $250 –million-plus that the state once appropriated to SIU.

Alas, genuine, long-term solutions aren’t so simple as either raising tuition or cutting back on administrative salaries. They will require painful, short-term sacrifices for nearly everyone at SIU and in the surrounding community.

Another reader— a respected local social worker, incidentally— suggested a new recruiting slogan for SIU: “Get high, get laid, get a degree!”

We can dream about open-minded leadership at SIU, but however more effective our reader’s catchphrase might be than the entire failed Lipman Hearne marketing campaign, it’s bound to prove a hard sell to SIU’s board and administration. But the spirit of the suggestion is in keeping with this writer’s call for SIU to dramatically improve the quality of life on campus and make it more exciting by increasing the number of student-oriented concerts, lectures, plays, and performances.

Go to the university ticket office’s website and click on SIU Special Events. The message there is, “There are no events or items on sale at this time.” So sad.

Moving forward, here’s two more suggestions from this writer:

Get acceptance or rejection letters back to applicants much more quickly. One of my nieces has applied to several graduate schools around the nation, including SIU. Other schools have already responded to her applications—one state’s flagship university already accepted her— but she’s still waiting to hear from SIU. This university cannot afford to allow her, and plenty of others, to make their decisions about where to attend long before SIU gets around to notifying applicants who gained admission.

Greatly expand recruiting efforts, especially toward international enrollment.

First, a myth to debunk.

As the baby boom ended, the number of college-aged students in Illinois looked to decline, and SIU enrollment along with it. SIU enrollment did, indeed, fall, and by a lot. But U.S. Census data showed that between 1990 (near the time of SIU’s 1991 enrollment peak) and 2010, Illinois’s population between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four— those near traditional college ages— steadily rose. Thus, the end of the baby boom, or a decline in the number of high-school students, proved poor excuses for SIU’s drop in student headcount.

That, however, started changing in 2011, when the number of Illinoisans ages fifteen to twenty-four began to dip. Illinois’s overall population has also fallen for three years in a row, a trend that demographers interviewed in a Chicago Tribune article expect to continue.

The National Center for Education Statistics, however, projects nationwide college enrollment to increase by fourteen percent between 2014 and 2025. The solution must adopt: Go fish in different ponds, ones with growing populations.

SIU has tried to do so by granting in-state tuition to students from neighboring states, but this hasn’t proven enough to reverse the plummet of overall enrollment. A genuinely welcome development, then, came from the SIU Board of Trustees earlier this month. While at their regular meeting the trustees stupidly voted to raise tuition, they should get credit for moving to make the in-state tuition rate applicable to all new and continuing domestic undergraduate students starting this fall.

The board ought to expand that thinking by extending the same courtesy to international and out-of-state graduate students, who generally pay 2.5 times SIU’s in-state rate.

Graduate enrollment has especially suffered here, and most other public Illinois universities share SIU’s pain. A popular theory for why: The loss of state-university funding is driving Illinois’s grad students to states where budget passage is more, or at all, likely. Dropping SIU’s sticker price to the in-state rate may help reverse that outflow.

Meanwhile, a Wall Street Journal report, “How International Students Are Changing U.S. Colleges,” asserts that the international-student population in America— primarily from China, India, and Saudi Arabia— has reached an all-time high, and it’s rapidly increasing. (Of course, that was written before the Trump administration, which could invert those numbers.)

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, unsurprisingly, has the fifth-largest international enrollment in the nation at 11,223. Internationals there have gone from two to fifteen percent of the total student body between 2000 and 2014. Illinois Wesleyan University and the Illinois Institute of Technology have also seen significant growth in international enrollment.

Once upon a time, SIU had one of the ten largest international enrollments in the nation. In 1992, however, four international students and one from Chicago died in an arsonist’s fire at the old Pyramid Apartments, and authorities never caught the perpetrator. A year later, international enrollment peaked at 2,185. Then, in 1997, the Asian Financial Crisis struck.

SIU’s international enrollment never fully recovered from those disasters. Nevertheless, starting in 2006, it did begin to tick back upward. And while it backslid the last two years— in large part, university officials say, because the Brazilian Science Mobility Program sent fewer of that country’s students here— people from more than one-hundred nations still attend Southern.

This school, then, retains an international reputation on which it must further capitalize by shifting some recruiting resources overseas. SIU’s trustees would help even more by dropping international-students’ tuition rates to the in-state level.

 

Feel free to send additional, sincere suggestions to <mailto:nightlif@midwest.net>, and we might just publish them!

Editorial: SIU’s Stupid Tuition Hike

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
Editorial: A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard
Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Get Happy! The Festivities of Fall Arrive en Masse
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment Part I
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part II: Improve the Quality of Life
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part III
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Alumni: Your Alma Mater Needs Your Help
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Springs Toward Disaster. Again.
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Further Freeing the Weed: Keeping Carbondale Kinder and Mellower
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


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What:
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The SIU Board of Trustees made a dumb decision this past week when it enacted a 3.9 percent increase
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

The SIU Board of Trustees made a dumb decision this past week when it enacted a 3.9 percent increase in undergraduate tuition rates and a five percent increase in graduate tuition rates.

“The proposed rates... are needed to fund additional cost obligations of the University,” according to a report to the trustees. “Without this additional funding, the quality of educational opportunities for students would be diminished.”

Exactly what students do the trustees intend to educate? In fall 2016, SIU suffered the largest enrollment decline in years— and that’s really saying something after almost twenty-five years of steep drops in the student headcount. The Carbondale campus now has fewer students since 1964, and it’s lost thirty-six percent of its student population since the 1991 enrollment peak.

The trustees’ solution: Make SIU more expensive.

That, of course, flies in the face of every established economic law, especially the one about demand and cost: If fewer people are buying a product or service, the marketplace probably considers it overpriced.

In fairness, by passing tuition increases the trustees tried to address a different issue: In Springfield, Gov. Bruce Rauner refuses to sign a budget unless the General Assembly first passes a series of union-busting laws that no legislature dominated by Democrats, as Illinois’s is, would for a second consider. This has largely turned off the tap of state money flowing to Illinois’s public universities.

Furthermore, everybody can brace themselves for the Trump administration in Washington to crush federal higher-education funding.

Thus, the trustees found themselves in a legitimately difficult financial position. But saving the quality of educational opportunities wasn’t the goal of this tuition increase— that assertion was intellectually dishonest. This tuition increase was really intended to raise enough revenue to avoid having to lay off university employees.

That decision, however, revealed badly misplaced priorities on the trustees’ parts. As bad as the budget situation is, plummeting enrollment is SIU’s immediate existential threat.

Growth can offset a lot of the university’s financial problems. Rising enrollment, obviously, increases the number of students who pay to attend SIU, and that makes a huge impact on university revenue. It eventually means more alumni available to donate to or advocate on behalf of the university. Meanwhile, a bigger student body increases the university’s clout in Springfield, generating at least a little fear that state leaders will pay electoral consequences for shortchanging SIU. And growing enrollment provides better job security for university employees than squeezing students for more money.

Raising tuition, however, sabotages these imperatives. They’re making far more difficult than necessary campus chancellor Brad Colwell’s modest if admirable goals: to increase new freshman, transfer, and graduate enrollment by at least ten percent, and bump up the retention rate of first-time freshmen from 64.3 percent to seventy percent.

A large number of SIU’s students come from close to the state’s big population center of Chicago, which is a long way from Carbondale. Dumping the university’s monetary burden on students once again will compound Southern’s fiscal woes if it encourages even more people to choose community colleges and/or universities closer to home. If higher costs keep driving students away, then continuing enrollment declines will mean less tuition and fee money, and the trustees will further mire SIU in this vicious circle.

Meanwhile, in January, the University of Illinois’s trustees, facing many of the same challenges, showed how well they understood the situation when they froze in-state tuition for the third straight year.

The SIU trustees’ actions, then, served to further narrow the cost gap— already surprisingly small at about $2,000 a year— between what once claimed it was the second jewel in the crown of Illinois’s higher-education system and the state’s flagship school in Urbana-Champaign. And it widened the gap between SIU and the University of Illinois at Chicago, which, because so many students can commute there, costs about $2,000 a year less than Southern.

Holding the line on tuition seems to work for the University of Illinois, which keeps setting new records for enrollment, and has ambitions to grow by fifteen percent to twenty-five percent during the next five to ten years. This, despite— or because of— a persistent party-school reputation that used to belong to SIU... when SIU was still growing. This, despite a high-profile shooting death in the Campustown district last fall. And this, despite the state budget deadlock.

 

It’s past time to put aside Saluki pride and SIU’s longstanding tradition of antipathy toward everything Illini-related and learn from the University of Illinois. The numbers show what that university system is getting right— and what SIU is doing dead wrong.

Editorial: SIU Enrollment Springs Toward Disaster. Again.

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
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Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Get Happy! The Festivities of Fall Arrive en Masse
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment Part I
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part II: Improve the Quality of Life
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part III
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Alumni: Your Alma Mater Needs Your Help
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Further Freeing the Weed: Keeping Carbondale Kinder and Mellower
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


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When:
The schools that did worse— Chicago State and Eastern Illinois— did a lot worse in terms of percenta
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

The schools that did worse— Chicago State and Eastern Illinois— did a lot worse in terms of percentage losses. As usual, however, SIU’s Carbondale campus posted one of the largest enrollment declines compared to the other public universities surveyed by Nightlife, both in terms of percentage and headcount.

And once again, SIU officials tried to polish the turd. SIU lost 1,170 students between spring 2016 and spring 2017. In a January 31 press release that presented the latest enrollment lipskid, Carbondale-campus chancellor Brad Colwell said, “This means that we held our ground.”

In fairness, Colwell was talking about how adjacent fall and spring semesters tend to track with one another. And the historic, devastating, almost 7.6 percent decline from fall 2015 to fall 2016 was pretty proportionate to the 7.4 percent decline this spring from last.

It is further worth noting that between adjacent fall and spring semesters from 2011 to 2017, SIU’s enrollment fell at a pretty reliable rate of between about seven and nine percent. (The outlier was fall 2013 and spring 2014, when the decline betwixt them dipped to about 4.7 percent.) From last semester to this one, SIU lost about 8.5 percent of its student body.

Still, there’s no context in which a loss of 1,170 students— 7.4 percent of the student body— constitutes holding one’s ground. It is consistency of failure, and that’s not the same thing. Furthermore, when SIU loses so damned many students from fall to fall, the spring decreases compound the effects.

Declining enrollment, for example, means fewer students pay tuition and fees. This, of course, has caused SIU to leave many faculty and professional positions unfilled.

In addition, Nightlife has repeatedly mentioned how this has hurt the Student Activity Fee and all of the events it was designed to fund— concerts, lectures, plays, and performances that used to proliferate on this campus and now end up at regional rivals like Southeast Missouri State.

Well, declining enrollment means fewer students pay into the athletic fund, too— and it’s gotten bad enough that even Saluki Athletics isn’t getting bailed out anymore. Citing, among other things, declines in revenue from student athletic fees, on January 26 SIU announced the elimination of men’s and women’s tennis teams.

In any event, the January 31 press release goes on to state that 1,383 students were scheduled to graduate in December, “which correlates closely with the 1,351 difference between the fall 2016 enrollment of 15,987 and spring enrollment of 14,636.”

If so, then it’s numerically possible to make the argument that all of the students SIU lost from the fall it did so due to graduation, and new students this spring slightly more than cancelled out those who transferred, dropped out, or flunked out. That’s a genuinely good sign that may portend well for enrollment during the fall 2017 semester and beyond, as well as SIU’s ongoing efforts to improve its appalling graduation and retention rates.

 

The urgency to get there, however, much less a realistic plan to make it possible, seems missing. And any evidence must wait until fall 2017 to reveal itself. That is a long way off.

Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part III

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
Editorial: A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard
Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Get Happy! The Festivities of Fall Arrive en Masse
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment Part I
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part II: Improve the Quality of Life
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Alumni: Your Alma Mater Needs Your Help
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Further Freeing the Weed: Keeping Carbondale Kinder and Mellower
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


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During the fall semester, Nightlife ran two lengthy columns detailing actions that SIU should take t
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

During the fall semester, Nightlife ran two lengthy columns detailing actions that SIU should take to help restore enrollment. With the announcement of another big spring enrollment decline this week— the university lost 1,170 students compared to spring 2016, a 7.4 percent drop that parallels the fall plummet in terms of proportion— here are more ideas SIU can use to plug the iceberg-sized hole in its hull.

We’re certainly open to presenting sincere suggestions from our readers. Please send yours to <mailto:nightlif@midwest.net> and we may share them in in a future column. Meanwhile:

Grant automatic admission to SIU to anyone the University of Illinois accepted but wait-listed or otherwise did not admit. There are certainly barriers to doing this— getting a confirmed list of whom the U of I has accepted may present privacy concerns— but they’re worth the effort to overcome.

It’s a huge pool of qualified students from which to recruit. In February 2016, the News-Gazette of Urbana/Champaign reported that 37,876 persons applied that semester, and the U of I accepted about twenty-two-thousand of them. Most, however, didn’t enroll— freshmen that semester at the U of I numbered only 4,803. Some who did, certainly, were graduate or law students, for example, or transfers from community colleges, and the U of I counted them elsewhere in the campus census. For some others, the U of I was a safety school, and those students went elsewhere.

But there’s still a lot of students among those twenty-two-thousand who for whatever reason didn’t chose the U of I, or for whom the state’s flagship university didn’t have room. SIU needs to make it too easy for them not to come here.

Hold many more online, evening, and weekend classes. The idea of online classes may offend much of the faculty on general principles, and for good reasons— nobody at SIU wants to join Trump University and its ilk as an educational laughingstock. And many professors might not relish the idea of staying late on weekdays or getting up early on Saturdays to teach classes.

But the nine-to-five, brick-and-mortar model that SIU follows no longer works for too many potential students. People with full-time jobs, children, house payments, and other obligations will not abandon those important responsibilities to pursue SIU degrees, even if the sacrifices may bring long-term gains.

Legitimate universities are offering far more flexible options— which don’t require living in poverty or racking up unconscionable loan debt— than SIU. This university will continue to lose its share in the marketplace of ideas if it fails to adapt to these nontraditional students, who may rapidly become the new traditionalists. SIU’s challenge is to change with integrity.

Eliminate SIU’s application fee. Undergraduates pay a nonrefundable $40 application fee, while graduates pay a nonrefundable $65 application fee. While these fees probably discourage people from turning in applications to a school they have no interest in attending, thus creating unnecessary busywork for admissions employees, they also dissuade sincere applicants from bothering with SIU.

Nightlife reported that in fall 2001, the first semester after SIU introduced its application fee, enrollment plummeted by 954 students, and by 612 students after the second semester that the fee was established—easily predictable outcomes to everyone but the clueless administrators who instituted them. There were other factors contributing to those enrollment declines, of course, but the fee didn’t help. Removing the fee will increase applications, and hopefully enrollment will follow that upward trajectory.

Design billboards that don’t suck. Nearly all of SIU’s billboards violate approximately every single rule of graphic arts and advertising.

One broken rule: Advertising must appeal to its audience. So a billboard that reads “Research grants: $78 MM. Patents awarded: 49. Opportunities: Endless” might serve as Viagra for research professors. But to the prospective students they are in theory designed to reach? Those grants don’t pay student salaries, and royalties from those patents don’t accrue to students, so why should they care? The message doesn’t communicate how students would benefit from an SIU education.

Another broken rule: If you can’t process the information on it, the billboard sucks. Billboards are not inspirational posters at a dentist’s office that you can stare at and contemplate for twenty minutes while the novocaine takes effect. Motorists drive past many billboards at seventy miles per hour, so drivers and their passengers need to absorb their messages in the blink of an eye. An extreme closeup of somebody doing god knows what trailed by cryptic (or, less charitably put, nonsensical) text like “Initiative Rewarded” won’t cut it.

An SIU billboard that violated both of the above rules read something like “8,000 Acres of Possible.” Only people who grow up on farms or sell real estate know how big acres are. To the rest of the world, acres are where farmers grow corn and ranchers raise hogs, not where people go to college. And apparently nobody ran that one by the English Department. “Acres of Possible” isn’t quite right. “Acres of Possibilities,” maybe. But again, why would the size of the campus matter to students? Plenty of big things— Walmart, Coldplay concerts, the Golden Corral buffet— suck. And the message itself is too cryptic— or, really, nonsensical.

You know whose billboards really pop? The Edwardsville campus’s. Messages like “SIUExcellence” immediately make their points, and extremely well. Little wonder that school has grown while this one has shriveled. Maybe SIU should job out marketing efforts to its sister campus.

 

Establish a campus Walk of Fame. Prominent SIU alumni should get stars on high-traffic campus sidewalks, similar to those on the University City Loop, Beale Street, and Hollywood. Expand the definition of alumni to include former professors, and students who didn’t actually graduate but have gone on to huge successes— and to those who don’t donate boatloads of cash to the university. Students and visitors to campus will discover that SIU alumni went on to help invent drugs like Prozac, serve in the U.S. Senate, play music with the Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson, win acclaim at Sundance, and play in the National Basketball Association and National Football League. Such a Walk of Fame would jazz up the campus with much-needed and well-earned pride— students can see they’re walking where important people once did and imagine greatness in their own futures. Meanwhile, SIU could give recognition to those who might not feel remembered— much less appreciated— by their alma mater, and there’s no telling how many dividends that could end up paying over the years.

The College Scorecard: Grading SIU

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
Editorial: A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard
Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Get Happy! The Festivities of Fall Arrive en Masse
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment Part I
Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part II: Improve the Quality of Life
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Alumni: Your Alma Mater Needs Your Help
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Further Freeing the Weed: Keeping Carbondale Kinder and Mellower
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


Who:
What:
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When:
Autumn and spring headcounts usually track with each other, and 2016 brought a historic fall in both
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

Autumn and spring headcounts usually track with each other, and 2016 brought a historic fall in both senses of the word, with the university’s population plummeting by 1,305 students to total levels not seen since, literally, 1964. Thus as Saluki Country braces for yet more terrible news regarding SIU enrollment, the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, updated September 13 of last year, might provide some insights.

Enlightenment, of course, isn’t synonymous with comfort. That said, not all of the data paints a terrible picture when comparing SIU to other major state-sponsored universities in Illinois and its regional competitors. The numbers also make obvious many strategies for repairing the deep ruptures in SIU’s enrollment hull.

(Positive objectives recently came from the campus chancellor as well, more about which later.)

In terms of average annual cost— tuition and fees minus scholarships and grants— SIU students pay just a smidge more than the national average, and SIU is among the state’s least-expensive public universities.

The problem is, where price is concerned, there’s not that much of a difference. The state’s flagship school, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, only costs about $2,000 a year more, and its alumni earn significantly greater incomes while graduating with less debt. And the University of Illinois at Chicago is less expensive than SIU by more than $2,000 a year, while its alumni also rack up less debt and outearn SIU’s.

Meanwhile, there’s regional rivals Southeast Missouri State University and Murray State. Both, especially SEMO, have seen enrollment trend upward in recent years (though not in fall 2016, when student headcounts dipped at both campuses, much more severely at Murray). Little wonder: Both are significantly less expensive to attend, and students at both will graduate with slightly less debt than SIU’s alumni.

SIU graduates, however, earn a lot more than those of SEMO or Murray, as well as those who earned degrees from Eastern and Western Illinois and the Edwardsville campus.

All this presents a way forward.

If SIU is relatively inexpensive, some inferior schools and objectively better universities alike can easily compete against SIU on price. Thus, freezing tuition and fees or raising them less than others isn’t nearly enough to reverse the enrollment death spiral. SIU must get its costs way down. Then it needs to make sure that prospective students, especially in this region, see the long-term payoffs that come from SIU educations compared to SEMO and Murray. SIU should make the same pitches near Eastern, Western, and Edwardsville, whose students all pay more and earn less than SIU alumni.

SIU’s graduation rate of forty-four percent and its retention rate of sixty-eight percent both suck. Only woebegone Chicago State fairs worse among the schools to which Nightlife has compared SIU. The University of Illinois and, of all places, Illinois State lead the pack in both categories.

While up-to-date transfer rates aren’t available for comparison, SIU’s trended in the wrong direction between 2004 and the most recent year for which figures are available, 2011.

A consultation with Nate Silver isn’t needed to interpret this data, though the people who have run SIU since at least 1990 and maybe even 1968 have not proven equal to the task. To wit:

Students leave school before graduating for many reasons. They discover they can’t afford it and leave for less-expensive alternatives. They’re unqualified and flunk out. They feel poorly treated by university employees and leave for friendlier environments. They believe they aren’t learning anything useful in their programs and seek better educational opportunities elsewhere. They miss the closeness of family, the structure of high school, or other means of emotional or academic support— problems that disproportionately sabotage the educations of students from low-income families regardless of their intelligence, high-school rankings, work ethics, and test scores. A lot of students who leave SIU probably fit into some combination of the above categories.

The solutions are simple.

Again: Get costs down.

Don’t admit borderline students, which only sets them up for failure, and makes SIU look like a place where too many people cannot succeed.

Require customer training for all university employees, including trustees, upper administrators, and professors. Fire those who won’t implement the program.

Revise class content to prepare students for the work environment they will actually enter, not the labor markets of 1995 or 1983. Fire professors who can’t or won’t adapt.

Improve the quality of life on campus to make SIU more exciting.

Adapt the University of Texas at Austin’s U.T. Mindset program to help students from low-income families succeed at SIU.

It’s not necessary to detail or justify those solutions here— for years, Nightlife has in many cases done so ad nauseam. And it’s safe to say that we’ll have to repeatedly do it again.

With regard to last fall’s titanic enrollment collapse and the trendlines it accelerated, campus chancellor Brad Colwell has until recently offered the kinds of excuses for failure that he would never tolerate in his students. In the latest edition of SIU Alumni, however, Colwell publicized some admirable first steps: Increase new freshman, transfer, and graduate enrollment by at least ten percent, and bump up the retention rate of first-time freshmen from 64.3 percent to seventy percent.

Those goals, however, will prove hard to accomplish unless the university reduces its costs, improves the quality of students it attracts and the programs it offers them, provides effective support to students who struggle, makes the campus more exciting, and corrects its overall attitude to the students whose educational needs it should exist to serve.

(The University of Illinois, meanwhile, makes Colwell’s goals seem ridiculously anemic. That system president, Tim Killeen, wants to increase enrollment by fifteen percent, or 11,500 students, by 2022, and has talked about pushing enrollment all the way from the current total of 81,500 to one-hundred-thousand students.)

The data reveal a lot of problems for SIU. Colwell has decided how much SIU should correct some of them during the next academic year. But if he doesn’t have concrete plans for fixing the underlying causes of this enrollment death spiral, he won’t pull SIU out of it. It’s time for him and university-system president Randy Dunn to present specific strategies designed to achieve enrollment growth— and hold accountable those, including themselves, who fail to reach their promised land.

Editorial: Unintended Consequences of Hitting the Publish Button

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Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


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What:
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With the indulgence of Nightlife’s great readers, I’d like to comment on a local incident about whic
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

With the indulgence of Nightlife’s great readers, I’d like to comment on a local incident about which I’ve tried to remain ignorant, for reasons I’ll explain in a moment.

Several media sources reported that after the November 8 election, white SIU students in blackface made a video while standing in front of a Confederate flag and promoting Donald Trump’s presidential victory. Or maybe they were in a photo on a Facebook post. Those details don’t really matter here.

Whether it was a sincere expression of racism or a morally indefensible, poorly executed exercise in parody I’m in no position to say. Because either way, I figured the kids in question were looking for attention. They didn’t deserve it and I didn’t want to give them mine, so I didn’t watch the video or see the post or whatever it was. I didn’t read, watch, or listen to any news accounts about it except in the most cursory way— even so, however, the angry responses were impossible to miss.

But if the SIU students in question were making satire, the basic scenario reminded me of when I was in high school up north. Back in 1985 or so, a younger child tragically died from liver cancer. A local school-board candidate sent out a campaign letter to everyone in the district. Not only was his missive barely literate, not only were the pages misnumbered, the candidate, apropos of nothing to do with the school system, tastelessly tried to turn the child’s death into some sort of political issue on which he tried to capitalize.

I wrote a parody of that campaign letter in the school computer lab, numbering the pages incorrectly and deliberately aping the candidate’s pathetic failures with English grammar. I also made some sort of intentionally insensitive reference to a dead kid helping “me” in the campaign.

My teacher promptly took it away. And he made copies.

To the extent that something like that could go viral before the internet, this kind of did. People who I didn’t know wound up telling me they loved it. I heard that it wound up on the bulletin boards of all the teachers’ lounges in the district. For a spell there, my teachers, who seemed unanimous in their hatred of the candidate, felt a little less disgusted by my smart-assed presence in their classrooms.

The candidate was doomed anyway, but I felt as if I contributed a bit to his spanking in the election.

In fact, I felt more than a little smug about my pre-Onion masterpiece.

Then the late child’s older brother— a senior when I was just a freshman, if memory serves, and a much bigger kid than I was— approached me in the school hallway.

“Wissmann! That letter you wrote?”

Uh-oh. It suddenly dawned on me that while the school-board candidate was an asshole for trying to turn a child’s death to his political advantage, maybe I wasn’t a whole lot better for making that tragedy into fodder for comedy. Maybe I had unintentionally picked at his family’s emotional scabs. I hadn’t given any thought to those possibilities before I wrote what I did or (somewhat involuntarily) let it out into the world.

“I just wanted to thank you for that,” the guy said, smiling. He added that his whole family appreciated it.

“Really?” I asked, full of equal parts apprehension and relief. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” he replied. We proceeded to have a short, friendly conversation, the only interaction I remember us having, and then went our own ways.

Better lucky than good, I dodged a bullet.

Those SIU students, judging by the outraged reactions they received, were not so fortunate.

Hopefully I learned a lesson about trying harder to predict the inadvertent consequences of what I write for mass consumption and what I say in public. Hopefully I’ve grown more careful, more sensitive, about how I tackle subjects on which I opine and about my word choices.

I admit I don’t always remain mindful of my first experience with mass media, such as it was, in high school, and when that’s the case I’m always more likely to hurt unintended targets.

Unfortunately, far too often we learn these lessons the hard way, through trial— and errors (like appearing in blackface, which is difficult to justify in any context, including satire). The mistakes are easier to make and the consequences much more serious these days, with the internet providing a potential worldwide audience for what we produce. If we have First Amendment rights to disseminate nearly anything we want, we can’t forget the responsibilities— moral if not legal— that come with them.

 

Maybe, however, we can all learn from history— this community’s more recent and my more distant examples— and think just a little bit more about how others will receive our messages before we hit the Send or Publish buttons and broadcast our thoughts to the entire planet.

Editorial: SIU Alumni: Your Alma Mater Needs Your Help

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

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.

Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment, Part II: Improve the Quality of Life

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Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


Who:
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When:
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the arts and entertainment scene of Southern Illinois was a huge magnet for
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the arts and entertainment scene of Southern Illinois was a huge magnet for me, so that may well lead me to overemphasize its importance to current students. Nevertheless, raising the excitement level on campus by investing in more student-oriented activities can only help improve the university’s reputation among students, current and prospective.

City government has begun doing its part by approving street fairs of ever-increasing size, culminating thus far with the other week’s great CarbondaleRocks Revival. (Sadly, though, the Homecoming street fair with Andy Frasco and the U.N. and the Jungle Dogs appears as if it will not take place.)

So has SIU, albeit in more modest (and more family oriented) ways, through programs like the Films on the Field series shown on the Saluki Stadium jumbotron. (It also provided some support to the CarbondaleRocks Revival.)

The university, however, must go much further. To briefly recap Nightlife columns printed back in February, SIU needs to reenergize Shryock and the SIU Arena. The former was great for helping to recruit and retain good professors who were excited about being able to enjoy, for example, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ladysmith Black Mambozo, or Dave Brubeck right here— big-city culture in a beautiful, rural setting. It also offered students a place to see— and through the Student Programming Council, to book— cutting-edge acts that couldn’t yet fill the SIU Arena, like the Pixies, Widespread Panic, or A Tribe Called Quest.

As far as the Arena is concerned, nobody came here in 1987 because Def Leppard or Great White played there that fall. But those and other concerts validated the decisions a lot of students made to choose SIU. They were stoked by the chance to see what at the time were— honestly!— bestselling bands within walking distance of the dorms. My roommates bought bunches of tickets to those and other Arena concerts, and our dorm was packed with their high-school friends who came to the shows and got a great taste of SIU and what it had to offer.

More recently, other than the few dozen days a year when it’s used for Saluki basketball, the Arena has generally been a waste of space rather than an important contributor to student life. That must change.

One exception: Move Springfest back outside and make it free. Hold it inside the Arena only if inclement weather strikes.

SIU should extend the Sunset Concert concept into the good-weather weeks of the fall and spring (and allow alcohol consumption, as during the summer). Instead of out-of-town acts, book local bands featuring SIU students at the school-year events, turning them into not just public festivals, but de facto scholarship performances. Moreover, SIU offers degrees in music business and media industries, and among its registered student organizations the university boasts a Music Business Association and Digital Dog Records in addition to the Student Programming Council. A regular concert series would further the academic mission of the university by giving students interested in entertainment-industry careers the chance to apply their classroom learning to real-world settings.

Make campus visits more exciting by holding welcome fairs and open houses when major campus events are scheduled. Here’s how not to do it: A few years ago my then-high-school niece came to an open house at SIU— held during the university’s spring break. My wife and I took her to the Student Center to buy her some Saluki gear, but the Student Center was closed, the doors locked. We took her to Morris Library to get some coffee and a snack, but Delyte’s was closed for spring break. She spent an hour or so in the Student Services Building where mostly old people talked to her about SIU. When it came time for a tour of the mostly deserted campus, she’d had enough.

She attends Lindenwood.

Even when open houses take place during university breaks and holidays, SIU needs to jump with athletics, lectures, films, and concerts. The Student Center must remain open, with scheduled activities taking place to welcome prospective students.

If the university doesn’t want to provide entertainment that students want, or when students want it, they’ll go off and seek their own. Eighteen-year-olds, however, can’t get into the city’s nightclubs, which are policed, licensed, insured, inspected for health and safety violations, and staffed by employees trained to recognize and cut off patrons who have consumed too much alcohol.

Too many students, instead, turn to illegal house parties, where the chance of tragedy greatly exceeds that at legitimate nightclubs and restaurants. For safety’s sake, SIU administrators should publicly lobby the city to reduce the bar-entry age to eighteen, and then work with students to learn how to responsibly enjoy their rights.

Lowering the bar-entry age, by the way, will not result in more underage drinking, because alcohol is freely available to those of any age at any number of illegal parties throughout the city. Instead it will encourage underage adults to have fun in far more carefully monitored environments.

The bar-entry age is nineteen in Champaign, but it’s eighteen in Urbana, and the number of all-ages events at Chicago and Saint Louis-area liquor licensees boggles the mind. Southern Illinois is a special place, but it’s not so wonderful that vast numbers of students will give up the rights they have in major cities to come to school here.

To combine two subjects mentioned above— university breaks and all-ages shows— local bands with a touring presence up north used to arrange unofficial SIU events in Chicago-area venues (which, if memory serves, included Fitzgerald’s, the Cubby Bear, and the Metro) during intersessions and spring break. Students had a fun way to keep in contact with each other when school was out, and they could bring younger friends and siblings for a taste of what awaited them if they decided to attend SIU. It’s time to revive this tradition, but in an official capacity, with the university itself booking these shows, making them sanctioned SIU events, and promoting them to alumni as well as current and prospective students.

We could go on, because there’s no shortage of great ideas. To reiterate a point from Part I of this article, however, all of the above will cost money that, between falling enrollment and the state budget stalemate, SIU doesn’t just have laying around. That will require sacrifices by every part of the university, including core academics.

Those who would finch from such diversions of funds must bear in mind that further enrollment declines will have even more dire impacts on the university’s academic programs than investments that make students want to come to or remain at SIU.

Meanwhile, again, we’re open to presenting sincere suggestions from our readers. Please send yours to <mailto:nightlif@midwest.net> and we may share them in in a future column.

 

To be continued?

Editorial: How to Rebuild SIU Enrollment Part I

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Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
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Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
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Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
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Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
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Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
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Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
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Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


Who:
What:
Where:
When:
“I am so sick and tired of the barrage of negative, demoralizing so-called news shared by the Nightl
Chris Wissmannr
Video Comentary

“I am so sick and tired of the barrage of negative, demoralizing so-called news shared by the Nightlife editor every week about SIU,” Becky Robinson wrote on this newspaper’s Facebook page in response to how this writer has addressed SIU’s enrollment crash and the administration’s flaccid, resigned reaction to it. “Is that the best you can do? Enough already. There are thousands of inspirational things to share... but so fun to pile on, right? Be a part of the solution, not the problem.”

Fair enough. Here are a few ideas for how SIU can bail out the ship and get it steaming forward once again. We’re also open to presenting sincere suggestions from our readers. Please send yours to <mailto:nightlif@midwest.net> and we may share them in in a future column. Meanwhile:

Lower tuition and fees.

SIU is too expensive, in part because the shrinking student body is supporting a number of university employees that has not declined at the same rate.

Between 1991 and 2015, SIU lost about thirty percent of its enrollment. But (counting the School of Medicine and excluding graduate assistants and undergraduate employees) the total number of faculty and staff has declined by only about ten percent.

SIU should slash tuition and fees by twenty percent and make up for the loss of revenue by laying off twenty percent of the workforce, maybe more. This will mean merging some programs and drastically shrinking or eliminating others— particularly those that students have largely abandoned.

Name a program at SIU, and anyone can defend its worth, even if only as having intrinsic value, or as a place where local residents can get jobs and support Southern Illinois’s economy. Right now, however, the university must concern itself with overall institutional survival. The best way to ensure SIU’s future is to drive up enrollment. Knock down the cost, make SIU a more financially attractive option for prospective students, and enrollment has a better chance of rebounding than if tuition and fees continue to escalate. Then, if the demand is there, the university can restore cut programs and rehire laid-off personnel.

Put employees’ skin in the game.

Going forward, do not increase tuition or fees. Let university personnel know that students will no longer shoulder the burden of an increased SIU payroll. If enrollment or government funding don’t rise, neither will revenue, and SIU will need to cut jobs to compensate.

If that prospect doesn’t inspire employees to relentlessly lobby the state legislature for higher-education funding or help implement innovative ways to help bring students to SIU, they won’t deserve to stay employed.

SIU employees form one of the largest and most affluent voting blocs in the region. Force them to flex their considerable political muscles on behalf of state funding for their own jobs, and woe to the legislators who don’t bow down to them.

Activate the alumni.

Twenty-five years ago, SIU hit its enrollment peak. That means that today, SIU could have more alumni with college-aged children than ever, and more alumni approaching the peak of their financial affluence and political influence. In these respects, the university may have never been in a better position— if SIU approaches its alumni with intelligence, sensitivity, and persistence, it could find a bonanza of legacy students as well as allies to combat the budget stalemate in Springfield. (On the other hand, we may finally discover that the seeds sewn by the university and city’s poor treatment of students circa 1991 will bear bitter fruit.)

Ask students what they want.

Once upon a time, SIU really was a wild party school. That made SIU incredibly popular, and helped drive enrollment to its 1991 peak. University and local officials, however, were ashamed by the university’s reputation and seemed to think it hindered enrollment growth. If they could just get rid of the party-school image, they believed, then enrollment would really boom.

They were dead wrong. They badly misjudged what students wanted from SIU. They undertook numerous measures to kill the party-school image, and enrollment has swirled down the toilet ever since. (Later on, credible sources tell Nightlife, enrollment reductions were intentional, but that’s another story.)

That’s not to say that the road to restored enrollment is to bring back the party— whether that would help depends on if and how much student priorities have changed during the last twenty-five years.

It does mean that SIU must serve student needs, not the fantasies or assumptions of university administrators.

(Serving student needs does not mean pandering to them by dumbing down classes and admitting, passing, or graduating undeserving people. It means equipping students for jobs in their post-college lives. That sometimes requires distinguishing between serving student desires and student needs.)

SIU has many great programs and Southern Illinois in general boasts a tremendous combination of amenities that no other area in the state can offer. But the university needs to figure out what prospective students want, why those who choose other colleges do so, and why those who decide to attend SIU come here. The university also must know why students transfer to other schools.

To answer those questions, SIU must hold a series of focus groups around the state with high-school juniors and seniors, community-college students, those attending other universities, current SIU students, and SIU dropouts. Crunch the data that comes out of those discussions and fearlessly follow it to develop effective marketing strategies.

In other words, don’t advertise SIU as a place that offers what academics imagine students want, or to the kinds of students academics want. Market SIU in a way that actually appeals to the potential students who in reality exist. If students want a party, don’t flinch from marketing SIU as a party school— but make sure students get a world-class education while they have the times of their lives. If students want something else, figure out how to offer that instead— and chances are that a university of SIU’s size already does, but prospective students just don’t know it yet. That’s where marketing comes in.

Funds to advertise SIU will need to come from somewhere. Academic programs, among others, will need to sacrifice. Professors, department heads, and deans will scream. But assuming that they, in general, are doing excellent jobs, their great work is clearly not enough to attract students. If it were, enrollment would have never entered this death spiral. And if SIU can’t pull out of this nosedive, those academics will lose their jobs soon enough. If, however, SIU can reverse the tide, the short-term costs will bring job security for everyone.

Keep the students you have.

The New York Times ran a feature story in its May 15, 2014, magazine (“Who Gets to Graduate?” by Paul Tough), and a column in this year’s August 20 Sunday Review section (“Conquering the Freshman Fear of Failure” by David L. Kirp) about student retention. Go read both of them. They’re unbelievable.

The oversimplified Cliff’s Notes: The biggest common denominator among college flunkouts isn’t low test scores or low class ranking in high school. It’s family income. Students from poor families, even those with impressive academic qualifications, are far more likely to fail out of college than those who come from wealth. This has huge implications for SIU, since as many as twenty percent of the campus’s students qualify for the Monetary Award Program, Illinois’s need-based scholarship.

Here’s the amazing part— the New York Times reported that a little creative visualization is a stunningly effective, proven remedy.

Here’s how it worked. Upperclassmen wrote letters to incoming freshmen discussing how they fought through personal and academic challenges and are now preparing to graduate. Low-income freshmen read those letters. Those freshmen then envisioned themselves four year later and wrote letters of their own, addressed to future incoming students, talking about the travails they overcame on their ways to college graduation.

The exercise took maybe an hour. And it cut the achievement gap between students from poor and affluent backgrounds in half.

A simple intervention of proven effectiveness that comes with virtually no cost? SIU must immediately adopt this practice.

To be continued...

Editorial: Get Happy! The Festivities of Fall Arrive en Masse

What the hell, let’s party.
Chris Wissmannr
Video Comentary

The official numbers for Southeast Missouri State University, SIU’s regional rival, came last week, showing a small decline in enrollment at that school— SEMO lost a total of nine students from fall 2015.

SIU, meanwhile, lost a shameful 1,305 students during that same period.

But enough of that for this week. What the hell, let’s party.

That’s sort of the sentiment that Curtis Conley, the head of the Carbondale Music Coalition, expressed on his organization’s website a few weeks back. Conley and company will hold the CarbondaleRocks Revival music festival Friday and Saturday, September 30 and October 1.

Crime and falling enrollment have trapped Carbondale in a malaise, Conley wrote. Legendary for its parties, Carbondale, Conley argued, needs to throw an epic bash to clear its head, shake off its doldrums, and show its boundless capacity for resilience and excitement. This year Conley has planned the largest CarbondaleRocks Revival thus far, and maybe it’ll provide the necessary emotional lift.

A mix of established locals and up-and-coming national acts— G. Love and Special Sauce, Houndmouth, the Woodbox Gang, Southern Culture on the Skids, the Ben Miller Band, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, Cornmeal, Aaron Kamm and the One Drops, Split Lip Rayfield, Davy Knowles, NIL8, the Funky Butt Brass Band, Buzzzard, the Number Nine Blacktops, the Swamp Tigers, and the Deep Hollow— are slated to perform on two stages on Washington Street by the Newell House. (This issue of Nightlife contains feature stories about many of the festival performers.)

But wait— there’s more.

Afterparties are planned in the city’s nightclubs and restaurants, to which festival tickets will gain free admission. Find out more, support the cause, and enjoy yourselves at the festival by purchasing tickets at <http://CarbondaleMusicCoalition.com>.

Are big, loud music festivals not your style? The Southern Illinois Irish Festival also takes place this weekend at the Varsity Center for the Arts and at Walker’s Bluff. Those venues will feature music, dance, art, and sports from the Celtic traditions and their progeny, especially American folk music and bluegrass. (This issue contains a feature story about the festival.)

The six-string razors sharpen up September 29 to October 1 at the SIU Guitar Festival. The events will present everything from performances to masterclasses to a seminar on guitar recording techniques. The fest will showcase classical musician Hermelindo Ruiz Mestre from Puerto Rico and Grammy Award-winning jazz guitarist Frank Gambale (an alumnus of the Chick Corea Electrik Band), as well as SIU’s own guitar professor Isaac Lausell. Get the entire festival lineup from the link at <http://cola.siu.edu/music>.

Prefer the outdoors without loud music? The Breaking the Surface paddling festival will take place Saturday, October 1 at 1 p.m. on Little Grassy Lake at Touch of Nature Environmental Center. Touch will provide canoes, kayaks, life jackets, instruction, and paddles, as well as roundtrip transportation from the SIU Arena at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and returning at 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Landlubbers can join interpretive hikes along Rocky Ledges Trail. Those who come should bring snacks, beverages, and appropriate footwear, plus insect repellent. Get more information at (618) 453-1121 or <http://ton.siu.edu>.

The Von Jakob Orchard Oktobeerfest arrives Saturday and Sunday, October 1 and 2. Polka and oompah bands will perform while the local microbrews will pour.

Head east Saturday, October 1 to the Saline Creek Pioneer Village and Museum in Harrisburg for the Saline County Bluegrass and Barbecue Festival. It’s free and open to the public, but those who attend should bring a few canned goods for donation to a local food pantry while enjoying the high, lonesome sounds of the Southern Illinois hills.

Prefer horror to music? Drench yourself in gore and head down Saturday, October 1 to the Arts Center in Anna for the zombie parade and party.

Two entire communities will celebrate this weekend. The Alto Pride Civic Group Fall Barbecue Cookoff and Alto Pass Business Association Great Downhill Derby will fire up the coals and get rolling Saturday, October 1. The DeSoto Daze Community Festival Friday through Sunday, September 30 through October 2.

 

This is an especially difficult time in Carbondale and Southern Illinois. Even now, however, those who feel as if there’s nothing worth doing here are blind.

Editorial— Further Freeing the Weed: Keeping Carbondale Kinder and Mellower

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
Editorial: A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard
Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


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Back in 2003, when I was elected to the Carbondale City Council, possession of less than ten grams o
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

Back in 2003, when I was elected to the Carbondale City Council, possession of less than ten grams of marijuana was a misdemeanor punishable by fines of $750 to $1,500 plus imprisonment. The Jackson County State’s Attorney at the time, Mike Wepsiec, suggested to then-councilman Lance Jack and I that Carbondale use its home-rule authority to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana so he could focus on more serious crimes.

Jack and I brought the idea to then-mayor Brad Cole, and in March 2004 Carbondale passed a pioneering ordinance that made possession of ten grams or less a city-ordinance violation— basically akin to a traffic ticket— with a penalty of $250 to $750, or $125 plus twenty-five hours of community service.

The ordinance didn’t transform Carbondale into the ganja equivalent of Needle Park, nor did fines for marijuana offenses turn into a huge moneymaker for the city. Instead, the number of cannabis citations remained pretty consistent during the remainder of my city-council tenure.

At the end of July, however, the state of Illinois caught up to and zipped past Carbondale. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law Senate Bill 2228, which dramatically dropped the state’s penalties for small amounts of marijuana. Under the new state statute, simple possession of ten grams or less can no longer result in arrest, and instead of a misdemeanor it’s a civil-law violation with fines ranging from $100 to $200. Offenses are automatically expunged upon payment of the fines.

Senate Bill 2228 also left intact local laws like Carbondale’s. In other words, where marijuana is concerned, Carbondale went from being one of the kindest communities in the state to one of the harshest.

That, however, needn’t remain the case.

While Senate Bill 2228 didn’t overturn Carbondale’s ordinance, it also doesn’t explicitly preempt home rule. The Cannabis Control Act and, surprisingly, the Controlled Substances Act don’t appear to do so, either. This is what allowed Urbana to set fines for marijuana possession at $50 in April— months before Senate Bill 2228 became law— after a failed attempt to drop it to $5.

Where small amounts of marijuana are concerned, Carbondale should once again take the lead as the state’s most progressive city. The city council here should move fines to where Urbana dared to consider but couldn’t quite muster up the will to go, and set them at $5— effectively legalizing small amounts of marijuana.

Carbondale can do this with eyes wide open. While hardly the most dangerous substance in the pharmacopeia, marijuana isn’t an entirely benevolent substance or its use completely consequence-free as some legalization supporters claim. (Comparisons to alcohol and tobacco often miss, or dismiss, this point.) Though the links between smoking marijuana and cancer aren’t firmly established, inhaling hot smoke of any kind can deliver numerous carcinogens to the lungs. The long-term effects of the many chemicals in marijuana are not well-studied. No state of inebriation is physically or psychologically healthy or responsible. None of these are entirely personal effects— some of the costs accrue to society at large.

People who use drugs in harmful ways, however, either don’t know or don’t care what they’re doing to themselves. Thus, the public-health impacts of marijuana consumption are matters for educators and counselors and not police and prosecutors, who need to focus enforcement efforts toward activities where the victimhood is substantially less self-inflicted.

Thus, even if it can, Carbondale shouldn’t remove restrictions or lower the penalties for trafficking, impaired driving, or public consumption. The first two offenses create serious public-safety issues. Establishing the third restriction would make public marijuana use consistent with ordinances against the public consumption of alcohol— except when Fair Days designations are granted by the city council, for example, Carbondale prohibits people from drinking alcohol in parks, on streets and sidewalks, and other public places. People who wish to use marijuana should do so at home.

(Speaking of alcohol, this might be a good time for the Carbondale City Council to consider reducing fines for underage possession of alcohol and lowering the bar-entry age, too.)

 

Carbondale can then join states like Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington in an experiment to see where legalization (or, in our case, quasi-legalization) leads. This writer’s bet: Just as decriminalization didn’t significantly change the number of marijuana citations issued by the Carbondale Police Department, neither will lowering the fine to a token level.

Editorial— SIU Enrollment in Context: Worse Than Almost Everybody Else

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
Editorial: A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard
Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


Who:
What:
Where:
When:
Nightlife conducted our annual survey of enrollments at most of Illinois’s public universities as we
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

Nightlife conducted our annual survey of enrollments at most of Illinois’s public universities as well as nearby Southeast Missouri State. Only a few of those schools— Illinois State, the University of Illinois Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and SEMO— registered increased headcounts.

SIU’s Carbondale campus, however, lost a greater number of students than any other university in the state of Illinois, with a precipitous decline in total population of 1,305 students from fall 2015. (Only the deeply troubled Chicago State, which almost shut down last spring, lost a greater percentage of its students.) It was the worst enrollment decline since the end of the student deferment for the Vietnam War-era draft, making this a systemic failure of historic proportions. Total enrollment dipped to 15,987, the fewest students on this SIU campus since 1964. SIU also fell to sixty-four percent of the 1991 enrollment peak of 24,869 total students.

It’s so bad that when walking our dogs last week before sundown, we saw an entire herd of deer grazing on the lawn in front of the Communications Building. Deer tend to avoid heavily populated areas.

Chancellor Brad Colwell wrote off his school’s epic enrollment faceplant with the following remarks at a press conference:

“There is a sweet spot [with regard to enrollment], and you’re going to hear people say, ‘Go back to the glory days of twenty-five thousand [students].’ Well, that’s not possible. That was a different time, when there were associate degrees being offered here, and things are different. We don’t offer that anymore. It’s a different time.”

Colwell’s “sweet spot” remark sounds dangerously similar to those of one of his failed predecessors, Walter Wendler, who once talked about “right-sizing” a university for which a better description was capsizing.

Should Colwell continue in this vein— in terms of rhetoric or results— the university’s alumni and the local businesspeople who donate to the school will quickly toss away their checkbooks. The long knives will come out instead.

Colwell must know that former university-system president Glenn Poshard may have hit the height of his popularity when he removed Wendler from the chancellor’s office. Should enrollment continue its freefall, university-system president Randy Dunn might not save himself by sending Colwell running with his tail between his legs back to Bowling Green State University, if his previous employer will still have him. By then, Dunn could also be... well, done is too easy a word, but it’s probably accurate. Such a move, however, will certainly earn Dunn’s replacement a semester or so of good will.

Until then, if Colwell thinks that SIU’s enrollment sweet spot is anywhere beneath 24,869 students, here are how his charges can demonstrate what they learned from their chancellor.

SIU students: The next time a professor gives you a D for getting sixty-four percent on an exam, or when the Bursar hassles you about a late or insufficient payment, make an appointment with Colwell. Throw his loser’s words back in his face. Tell him the days of getting one-hundred percent on an exam or paying SIU’s bills in full are over. Maybe that’s disappointing, but not unexpected. It’s a different time. Demand that he change your grade to an A or debit your account with a full payment.

SIU employees: Tell Colwell that the glory days of working forty hours a week for full-time salaries or wages and benefits are over. Things are different. You don’t offer that anymore. Demand a reduction to twenty-six hours a week with no loss of income or benefits.

If Colwell responds unsympathetically, his predictability would make him no less a hypocrite.

To be clear: I want Dunn and Colwell to succeed. Their failures don’t profit me in any way— quite the opposite. Most people seem to feel the same way, for now.

Nobody is visiting the sins of their predecessors upon them— yet. But in the public’s mind, Dunn and Colwell were brought here to solve the enrollment crisis, not to make excuses for its perpetuation, much less accelerate it. Slouching down this path will force the most sympathetic allies to draw a straight line between Lawrence Pettit and John Guyon, whose dumb polices started this enrollment mudslide, right to Dunn and Colwell’s abject failures.

And after twenty-five years of failure, patience for the full restoration of this university is running out.

 

Dunn and Colwell are dead wrong if they think that spinning or making excuses for unforgivable failures will help them retain the public support they need to maintain the backing of SIU’s Board of Trustees. The only way they can do that is to take full responsibility, promise to do better, and deliver. Fast.

Editorial: SIU’s Nauseating Enrollment Numbers and the Sickening Administrative Spin

More Articles
Editorial: A Case for Neighborhood Business Zoning in Carbondale
Editorial: A Eulogy for Glenn Poshard
Editorial: A Great Trustees Decision— But a High Cost to the Low Price?
Editorial: Blame SIU Enrollment for Carbondale’s Property Tax Increases
Editorial: Brad Cole’s Solution for State-university Funding
Editorial: Concealed Carry: Safeguards Illinois Must Adopt
Editorial: Demons Are Exorcized, and Carbondale’s on a Roll!
Editorial: Don Monty— Call the Question
Editorial: Endless Fall(ing) Enrollment
Editorial: Enrollment, Enrollment, Enrollment: Down, Down, Down
Editorial: Glenn Poshard’s Army: Will He Mobilize SIU? Will He?
Editorial: How Far Will SIU Enrollment Fall (Again)?
Editorial: Rules for Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
Editorial: Shame on Illinois Democrats
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again
Editorial: SIU Enrollment Goes Down Again, Hard; Freshman Enrollment May Not Be at a Twenty-year High
Editorial: SIU’s Low, Low College Scorecard Grade Point Average and A Shift in the Balance of Power at SIU?
Editorial: SOS (Save Our Strip): Message Received?
Editorial: Taxes, Jobs, and Leadership: Three Connected Southern Illinois Conundrums
Editorial: Tell the General Assembly to Let Voters Elect SIU’s Trustees
Editorial: The Phantom Menace— The Real Threat SIU Faces
Editorial: Three Trains Running, But for How Long?
Editorial: To Rebuild Enrollment, Make SIU Fun Again
Editorial: Towed Away
Editorial: Wake up, SIU! Take Action in the State Budget War
Editorial: Why the Decision to Shop Locally Should Be More Than Just a Good Intention
Editorial— Complacency: SIU’s Doomsday Scenario
Editorial— Enrollment: Knocked Down, Can Dunn Get It Back Up?
Editorial— F.B.I. Tries to Nab Santa’s List; PATRIOT Act Invoked to Find Terrorist Suspects
Editorial— Killing Illinois’s Universities: How Bruce Rauner Can Get Away With Murder
Editorial— Police Academy: Learning to Cope with Video
Editorial— Poshard and Cheng: Pathetic Excuses for SIU’s Enrollment Death Spiral
Editorial— Rauner on Campus: The Proper Reaction
Editorial— Rules for Radicals: Lessons for the May 2 Strike Committee from Saul Alinsky
Editorial— S.O.S.: Save Our Strip (And How We Got in This Terrible Mess)
Editorial— SIU Football: Beat Liberty or Leave Town
Editorial— SIU’s 2015 College Score Card
Editorial— Splash of Cold Water: Tell Rauner to Resume Work on the Super Splash Park
Editorial— Thoughts About Tim Beaty’s Murder
Editorial— Total Eclipse: SIU Is in the Dark


Who:
What:
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When:
As expected, the enrollment news at SIU was more depressing than expected. And SIU officials said th
Chris Wissmann
Video Comentary

As expected, the enrollment news at SIU was more depressing than expected. And SIU officials said they expected it, a sort of tacit admission that they long ago threw in the towel with regard to student recruitment and retention for this semester.

After projecting a three percent decline from fall 2015, the official ten-day number, announced on Tuesday, was actually a loss of 7.6 percent. Total SIU enrollment now lays at 15,987, a stunning a decrease of 1,305 students from fall 2015.

That’s one of the largest drops in the school’s history.

Not since the close of the Vietnam War and the end of the student deferment and the military draft has SIU lost so many students. It’s worse, far worse, than any of the Titanic-quality enrollment sinkings that marked the administrations of Walter Wendler, Glenn Poshard, or Rita Cheng.

Fall 2016 also marks an almost thirty-six percent decline compared to the 1991 enrollment peak of 24,869 total students. It is by far the fewest students on this SIU campus since 1964. As our chief graphic artist, Kendra Kennedy-Gordon, noted, SIU has in twenty-five years lost more people than live in Murphysboro— the second largest city in Jackson County.

That’s pathetic.

University system president Randy Dunn and campus chancellor Brad Colwell should feel ashamed.

Other state and regional schools have different reporting deadlines, but thus far most are signaling that they will look a lot better than SIU.

Total enrollment at Illinois State is up by 1.1 percent, a growth of 232 students from fall 2015.

The SIU Edwardsville campus saw a decline of less than one percent, but fall 2015 was that campus’s all-time attendance record. A couple of more years at this pace, and the Edwardsville campus, which currently educates 14,142 students, will overtake the Carbondale campus in population size.

Hell, after a few more years like this, the Carbondale campus won’t have any students at all.

The University of Illinois’s official headcount will come out September 8, while Southeast Missouri State’s final census comes out after thirty days, rather than ten. Both, however, released optimistic first-day enrollment figures.

As Nightlife reported last week, Illinois’s flagship campus at Urbana-Champaign boasted a 712-student increase in its first-day enrollment. SEMO is off its fall 2014 first-day enrollment record by a tad, but from 2015 that school saw a 1.1 percent overall increase, a beginning freshmen jump of 10.6 percent, and the highest retention rate in the school’s recent history with a remarkable 74.3 percent of its new students coming back this semester.

Eastern Illinois, of all places, is expecting record international enrollment and higher graduate-student enrollment, while SIU saw decreases in both— revealing as pretty weak the excuses made by Carbondale campus officials.

As far back as March, Western Illinois, of all places, was expecting significant increases in transfer students from community colleges in downstate Illinois.

We’ll see how those projections turn out. They could be as inaccurate as SIU’s were.

 

But no matter how much Dunn and Colwell try to spin their own numbers, they’re only going to make those who listen to them sick.

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