University leaders have lost sight of goals with Pulliam Pool closing

An Open Letter to Chancellor Rita Cheng:

In days of yore, SIU had a reputation — a goal — of being part of the larger community of southern Illinois. Our current leaders seem to have lost sight of that goal.

Among other things, in those early days the university was particularly focused on the needs of handicapped students. That happened in two ways. The physical as well as the educational needs of those students were given attention. Early on, Carbondale had a reputation for being “user-friendly” for those with disabilities.

SIU’s Rehabilitation Institute was one of the first and one of the best in the country, turning out counselors who were aware of the needs of special populations. SIU’s Rehab Institute is currently one of the highest rated in the country.

Having a facility such as Pulliam Pool makes it possible for people who have a disability — whether the disability is age-related such as arthritis or is the result of an injury or disease earlier in life — to find an exercise within the bounds of their capability.

The pool in the Recreation Center is not a substitute for Pulliam. It is cold! It is difficult to find a parking spot nearby. It is a long way to get to the pool from any entrance. It is expensive to buy a Recreation Center membership if one is only going to use it for swimming.

SIU needs to keep Pulliam Pool open and functioning. We are told that it can be refurbished for a relatively small sum, compared to the expense of making it into office space. And once it is gone, it can never be replaced. This little gem, although in need of some current upkeep, is irreplaceable.

Let’s keep it open for all the children, all the people with disabilities and all the swimmers who need some healthy exercise in a pool that is warm, welcoming, easily accessible and lives up to the goals of our foresightful early President Delyte Morris.


Roberta Piper, PhD

SIU alumna

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