Our Word: Don’t point fingers, be a leader

By Gus Bode

If Chicago Bears fans destroy the campus after the Super Bowl on Sunday, we’ll be there. Our headline the next day might be “Fans burn Faner.”

And when parents read the paper online to find out what goes on at SIUC, they might try to persuade their children to go to school elsewhere.

Enrollment could fall, grants could be lost and the administration would blame the DAILY EGYPTIAN.

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It’s happening already.

Department of Public Safety Director Todd Sigler and enrollment leader Carmen Suarez recently blasted the DAILY EGYPTIAN via e-mail, claiming the paper is putting a shroud of negativity on SIUC.

Sigler said the DE wasn’t doing a good job debunking the university’s party school image by running a front-page photo of a student pounding beers at Pinch Penny Pub’s Polar Bear Party. Suarez wrote that the photo and recent editorials are destructive to the university’s image.

We are not the university’s marketing tool.

But since university officials admittedly do not have an efficient marketing operation, we’re taking the blame for low enrollment and a bad vibe across campus.

SIUC is a party school, no matter how hard university officials try to hide it. But every university is a party school in some form.

The students here are much like those at other universities. After class and work, there’s partying most nights of the week, and sometimes things get out of hand.

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But thanks to a Playboy article 20 years ago and recent disturbances at SIUC and in Carbondale, actions of students at this university seem to stick out above the rest.

In October 2005, students – many of them sober – destroyed university and private property in celebration of the White Sox’s World Series win. Seven years ago, students – many of them inebriated – tore up the Strip on Halloween.

These two instances were celebrations gone awry, and they have only added to the perception that SIUC is the place to party, and a place where things get broken.

When bad things happen, we cover them, the same thing we do when good things happen.

Two weekends ago, the women’s basketball team – ranked second in the Missouri Valley Conference – won a game with a three-point shot with just a few seconds left on the board. The attendance? 986.

Last weekend, a beer-drinking festival in freezing temperatures brought out thousands.

If the university really cares about purging the party school image, it needs to take a look at students’ priorities. Are they here just to party? Are they here to get the best education possible?

Maybe, they could be here for both.

The DAILY EGYPTIAN does not condone partying in excess, but it does believe in students making the best out of the college experience. If that means double fisting Coronas, so be it, as long as nobody gets hurt.

Pointing fingers at the DE is not a solution. Good, solid leadership in departments that promote the image of the university is the only way to oust the dark image of SIUC. We beg the university to find this leadership, and find it soon.

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