Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tunnel of Oppression: Communist Theme Park

On college campuses, the "student programmers" could use with a bit of anger management. On my campus there is the obligatory Vagina Monologues sticking to the script of the "angry vaginas" and other pleasant scenes.

My university is also part of the growing movement to "educate" through "Tunnels of Oppression."

Alas, benighted Lithuania hasn't caught up with U.S. "higher" education. They actually have a tunnel of oppression that deals with communism under Soviet rule. In the U.S. academy this is known as "historical communism" (to distinguish it from the Real Thing).

At any rate, those of us stuck in the "late stage of capitalism" are disadvantaged by our freedom, yet we may experience "historical communist oppression" through this Communist Theme Park (trip to Lithuania not included):

A Tale of Two Campuses: How the DOUBLE Tuition Freeze Benefits SIU-E

In the past week, SIU President Glenn Poshard announced a tuition freeze for next year's incoming freshmen. Concerned with the "rising cost of tuition," our distinguished state legislators passed a Truth in Tuition Act that already freezes the freshman tuition rate for a four year period. In other words, the price you pay in Year 1 is the same price you pay in Years 2, 3, 4.

One would think that the unreliability of state funding (which will be cut next year) would raise the risk premium on anything with a four-year maturity, including tuition. That's the way bond markets work, for example, but apparently risk is an economic variable not factored into the popular mantra of affordability. Indeed, SIU boasts that it leaves students with one of the lowest debt loads of any state university in the country (see below). It is difficult to see how much more "affordable" we can be unless we give college away for free.

SIU cited the following factoid from U.S. News & World Report:
"SIUC ranked 14th nationally in graduates who leave school with the least amount of debt. Thirty-seven percent of SIUC's grads are in debt when they graduate, with the average amount being $12,413."
To wit: We are giving college out for free to many students (although only 45% will graduate over six years). Pell and MAP grants cover the cost for "needy" students. This sounds like a good thing but it makes SIUC dependent on continued state funding of the MAP grant program, along with direct state subsidies. This year's MAP grant fiasco should have awakened Salukis to the reality that we need

*More paying students (not just those with money from the state)

*Higher tuition -- but the tuition freeze eliminates that option.

Bottom line:

*No state money

*MAP grant money is unreliable

*Tuition freeze = tuition cut (expect some inflation with a recovering economy--unless SIU is expecting four years of economic stagnation and zero inflation).

While folks at the Carbondale campus are desperate for funds, they are downright giddy about the tuition freeze at our ever-expanding Edwardsville campus. Here's why:

The Edwardsville campus tuition and fees = $8,336

The Carbondale campus tuition and fees = $10,411

In short, at the undergraduate level, SIU's two campuses are competing with each other and the freeze only enhances the Edwardsville advantage. Little wonder that their enrollment is booming while Carbondale's is in long-term decline. The above links suggest that SIU-E is far less dependent on students who need state grants. Their facilities are newer, they are close to an urban center -- AND they cost significantly less.

Perhaps I am missing something (?) but no one has ever pointed out the significant cost differential between the two campuses. Obviously, parents and students have figured it out; they are voting with their feet for SIU-E.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Census 2010: So Damn Complicated! (SNL skit)

As you all know, this is Census 2010 and the government wants you to "get your fair share" of the money due you. I don't know why they are asking about my race, whether I own a house, have a mortgage, etc. but to bring some levity to this decennial PITA (pain the ass), here is a SNL skit I can't resist sharing with readers:

We folk in southern Illinois have to do a better job: Chicago counts dead people at election time, so why can't we "think outside the box"? This SNL skit provides some helpful advice.

FYI: One of the witty documents in my Race and Liberty in America book is by Ben Wattenberg, who listed himself as "Human." "So sue me," he writes. See

Alas, no census boxes for Bobcats. . .

(Cougar would have been a better double-entendre. but I still enjoy SNL even when it isn't perfect. LOL).

PS: The best cameo by Christopher Walken has to be Fatboy Slim "Weapon of Choice."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Proposed Budget Cut = 15% layoffs at SIU

Capitol Fax Blog reports that an across-the-board budget cut of 10% proposed by gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady would trigger mass layoffs at state universities. The Blog quoted SIU President Glenn Poshard:

"Glenn Poshard said such a cut would immediately trigger a 15 percent layoff across the SIU campuses, something he said is “not practical, prudent nor possible.”