University officials have happily announced a 275-student increase this fall despite the tuition increase, a big relief to faculty, administrators and students alike.

By Gus Bode

But before we throw a ticker-tape parade and go singing in the streets, we must be reminded that the increase doesn’t make up for the 954-student loss last fall that resulted in a $1.5 million shortfall.

And lest we forget that enrollment has been on a steady decline, remember that with the exception of a few small increases, high figures have not been seen since 1992’s high enrollment of 24,766.

All indications, based on the country’s poor economy and the increase in high school graduates, hinted at a nationwide college enrollment increase this fall.


Coupled with SIU’s increased recruiting efforts through programs such as the student telecounselors, who made an estimated 50,000 calls on the University’s behalf, the SOAR program and the work of student ambassadors, one would expect an even larger increase and wonder why there wasn’t.

So what is it that holds SIU back time and time again?

This year begins with numerous positive benefits for students. The assistantships and minimum wage increase are giving students what they need:money. And the Presidential Scholarships are bringing to the University academic excellence, while giving students money.

These things will benefit both the University and students, as well as increase retention, something SIU has historically struggled with and something that leads to an overall drop in enrollment.

SIU has a variety of programs to attract students, but what about once they get here? Programs such as Student Life Advisors and Saluki Volunteer Corp., made up of students who are busy with their own lives, classes and work, are the welcoming committee. Many times new students don’t even meet faculty from their departments for the first couple of years here.

Large, impersonal classes, typically taken by freshmen, can be counteracted by more faculty involvement. Maybe faculty members could be assigned to students in their departments to keep them on track with their goals and make them feel a part of the University and not just another butt in a chair.

But looking at the entire picture – who, outside of existing faculty and students – knows about all of the positive programs that exist at SIUC?


Certainly not prospective students – that was taken care of this summer with the decision to ax the marketing firm.

We appreciate the enormity of this year’s budget shortcomings and can understand cutbacks in certain areas, but to completely remove the plan for marketing from the agenda is shocking.

The University cannot ride the wave of good publicity created by last year’s basketball team forever.

We agree that teaching and research issues are at the heart of this University, but so are students, and without students to populate the halls and fill the campus, what good does it do to focus on it?

The situation parallels the question of the chicken and the egg. Without backing the promise for a good education, students won’t attend the University. But if the students don’t know about the benefits of SIU, then they still won’t attend school here.

So which should come first, the students or the quality education?