Thursday, March 07, 2013


I realize it's much more interesting to people who have an SIU connection, but the recent board of trustees controversy is giving me flashbacks. It was long, long ago...or maybe just yesterday...when I was a mass communications student at SIU-E. Either way, I vividly remember the on-going discussion between students, and some outspoken professors, about how the Edwardsville campus was always getting "second class-citizen"  treatment in most all decisions made at the board level.

"We need to be our own university", we would say.
"It's not fair, why should Carbondale get all the money", someone would add.
"How come they can play football there and we can't", another would chime in.
"It's all those Chicago politicians who have no idea about anything south of Joliet who are controlling things", was a popular thought. "Let's stage a protest...yeah that's it...a protest". Protests were big back then. We rarely actually had them, but it was always cool to suggest.

Whenever the discussion came around to the quality of education, faculty members, sports facilities, and a host of other things, it was generally thought that Edwardsville got short shrift because it was the "new kid on the block" and had many less students to be served. Carbondale was the jewel. Edwardsville was the coal. Whether it was justified or not, that's what many of us who were Cougars thought about the relationship with our Saluki brethren. In the months/decades (take your pick) since I was a student there, things have changed dramatically with E picking up momentum as to student population and C struggling to maintain it's customary numbers.

Now, because of politics, there is huge controversy as to the makeup of the board of trustees. Governor Pat Quinn, in what many see as a political vendetta, has dumped the three Metro-East board members and appointed three Carbondale grads to replace them. Read the full story here from StLToday's esteemed Pat Gauen. Whatever Quinn's reasons in his own mind, it's seen by many as a move to have a governor-friendly board president; one who will do what Quinn wants to do with the SIU system.

In any case, the move has sparked a couple of bills in Springfield that would require more equity on the board and assure Edwardsville's voice is heard. One of the bills, introduced by state Rep Jay Hoffman, rekindles the effort to separate the campuses into independent universities. With all of the bad will that the governor has managed to create for himself in the state capitol, maybe Edwardsville, "the growing and vibrant", will finally be autonomous of Carbondale, "the original, but not so vibrant". I think for most of us who were handed a Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville degree, we would say that it couldn't come soon enough.

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