By Gus Bode

Dear Editor:

With the July 17 front page story in The Southern Illinoisan titled “Athletics Spending Skyrocketing,” it appears that SIUC has become a university where the ‘Tail Wags the Dog!’

Too many alumni (and administrators and board members) have a distorted view of the purpose of universities. In recent years, universities seem to have become diploma mills, run like corporations with attention only to bottom lines, with grading standards watered down, with students expecting to be entertained, and with big-time emphasis on success in competitive semi-pro athletics. And administrators lamely justify emphasis on success in athletics as “good advertising” for their institution. Foolishness, when in any game for every winner there is a loser. (Consider the University of Chicago’s history!)


Further, from students we often hear the complaint that there’s nothing to do in Carbondale — a stupid remark. Why are they here? If it’s to have a good time, they don’t belong here. They could learn some study habits from Asian students among them!

For most young people, the college and university experience is their first experience away from the limited environment of their family, farm, town or city. In classes, dorms and the town away from home they meet new people from across the U.S. and nations and cultures around the world. They encounter ideas that were not in contest in their homes or hometowns. College and university years are for developing talents and interests as students grow up to be unique people, not mirrors of the ideas where they came from.

A scary idea to some parents and politicos, but that is what colleges and universities are supposed to do!

David E. Christensen

Emeritus Professor of Geography, SIUC