Today’s column has taken a different turn than I had planned. I was hoping to tell you the story of a long van ride, a Russian, and an exotic animal park. Serious. You think I’m kidding about the Russian, but I’m not.

By Gus Bode

They didn’t just “go away” after the Cold War … they came here to get an education. Funny thing though, the Russian in my story may not be able to finish his education at this university.

Recently a voice from the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce appeared in various area newspapers, including the Daily Egyptian. That voice hoped to discourage an SIU faculty strike by pleading for a quick negotiation and agreement from opposing sides.

Using a nice, professional tone, this fellow member of the community shared a view many students have not realized – the community, as a whole, has a stake in this pending catastrophe.


By Wednesday evening (week of voting) most knew the outcome of a Faculty Association vote to strike. The chamber of commerce voice seemed too late. The faculty decided to hit the picket lines if no agreement was met, but claimed they weren’t excited about it.

Duh! Neither is anyone else. Today’s column is dedicated to the “little guy” in Southern Illinois who depends solely or partly on the University for a living. Right now, I don’t care about the Faculty Association, the SIU Administration, or even the students.

I want to discuss the small business owner that makes a living from the patronage of 22,000 plus students. I want to talk about the many other job positions on this campus that will be rendered unnecessary without classes in session (power plant, janitorial, student center, bus drivers, etc.).

I want to talk about the large number of faculty, which are not represented by the Faculty Association, who just want to teach. I want to speak about the checkout lady at Wal-mart or Schnucks that loses her job because 22,000 people aren’t buying food in this town. I want to chat about Winston, the bagel guy and the other “bagel guy” next to him that won’t have as many customers because there are no students.

I could fill this entire column with people who are connected somehow to this situation. The consequences of a strike are NOT isolated to particular groups. Everyone in the Southern Illinois area will be largely affected somehow. Yep, I said Southern Illinois.

Carbondale is not the only community that depends on SIU for its livelihood. Folks come from Marion, Carterville, Du Quoin, Murphysboro, and even as far away as Mt. Vernon, Pinckneyville and beyond to work at this place.

During the last few weeks, business owners have asked me to write this column. They’ve asked me to tell their forgotten story in this childish ordeal.


Honestly, I have shied away from it because I wasn’t sure I could tell their side effectively. Now, in light of the vote to strike, I have no choice. I urge the Faculty Association and SIU Administration to stop bickering and bellyaching back and forth. FIX THIS

The faculty should accept the fact that no other university or college in Illinois will receive raises either. The state has no money – face it, we’re broke, now move on. The administration should move on to other issues besides salary. Wendler says that all issues lead back to the use of money. I believe there have to be other ways to meet some of the demands of the faculty without money.

When I was young and my parents were poor, we still had Christmas. They found a way to make things work. Find a way, for the sake of the “little guy.”

Maybe next time I’ll tell you the story about the “mad” Russian. He amazingly knows directions to within a mile of anywhere.