The Southern, usually a reliable source of support for the SIUC administration, has editorialized against the planned upgrade of campus housing, arguing that SIUC needs to turn around enrollment and somehow secure stable state funding before embarking on a major new construction project. I'm not sure, frankly, how to evaluate the housing plan. My understanding is that the new construction is to be paid for via housing fees; what is unclear is how much said fees will need to increase in order to pay for the new construction (a question I would have asked in the Faculty Senate had I been on my game). The new housing will be more attractive--not a hard bar to cross when the comparison is with the towers. And it does seem to me that more human scaled housing could well result in a better experience for our students. Finally, it is foolish to argue that we need to wait for stable state funding to do anything--state funding will not be stable any time soon. It will presumably continue its long-term decline, at least in real (inflation corrected) terms.
But the standard concern expressed on this blog--that money will be steered toward amenities rather than academics--may still apply. Student fees that are increased in order to pay for new housing could have gone elsewhere, including, as always, remaining in our students' pockets; though here students will at least have the option of living off-campus. Given the glut of student housing, cheap options are no doubt available off-campus, though they will not always be of the most attractive kind.
Okay, a brief last of 2011 post will have to do. Now I have to go see if my nine year old son needs any assistance in helping his cousins build a fort of blankets and pillows--what counts as a rockin' New Years Eve for this blogger.