It’s been featured on MTV and Good Morning America. It’s been a mainstay of the SIUC campus for more than 30 years. And it’s been a point of pride for a University whose other historical claim to fame is its reputation as a party school.

By Gus Bode

Now, the Cardboard Boat Regatta’s existence is in jeopardy. It no longer has funding from the University and has been cut from classroom curriculum. Crowds that once numbered in the thousands have dwindled to a fraction of that.

We believe it would be a terrible mistake for the University to allow the event to sink like so many ill-fated cardboard boats over the years.

Larry Busch, a School of Art and Design emeritus and the event organizer, said the regatta’s woes are not just the result of lack of University funding.


“Money really isn’t the issue here,” Busch said. “We can raise money. The problem here is this event really needs to be institutionalized.”

We agree. The University needs to understand the regatta is a unique creation of SIUC. We started it, and our event has been the impetus for emulators across the country.

The regatta should not be allowed to remain merely an independent event whose only affiliation with SIUC is that it takes place on Campus Lake, as Busch said.

We understand the administration’s difficult task of stretching a thin budget, but the regatta has symbolic value for SIUC that cannot be evaluated purely in monetary terms.

If the University will not provide funding, art and design faculty could at least make the regatta part of their curriculum again and leave it to incoming event organizer Joshua White to find the funding.

The University should do whatever is necessary to keep the regatta afloat. It has become part of SIUC’s soul, and one cannot put a price tag on that.