Carbondale, IL - The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees voted Tuesday morning to approve tuition and fee increases to fund "Saluki Way" campus improvement projects.
The projects include a new McAndrew Stadium, renovations to SIU Arena, a new field house and a new state-of-the-art general classroom building.
According to U.S. News and World Report, SIU tuition is already over $2500 more expensive per year than other schools in the Heartland like SEMO and Murray State. But as far as research universities are concerned, SIU Chancellor Walter Wendler says, SIU is still the best buy in Illinois.
"We will continue to be the least expensive research university in Illinois because everybody is increasing their fees. If we don't raise our tuition and fees and build the kinds of facilities to attract good students, what happens is the difference between Southern and those other schools will increase," said Wendler.
SIU students certainly don't want their alma mater to lose prestige. However, some are concerned that the "Saluki Way" makes new sports facilities too much of a priority--and places academics in the cheap seats.
"The stadium is fine as far as I'm concerned" said SIU freshman Kyle Wilson. "The academic buildings-the actual campus buildings, I think they need to handle those, there's holes in the ceilings and stuff like that, I think they need to take care of that first."
"How much more do we need a stadium versus more money towards academics?" said freshman Chris Lawson. "There are some areas that are just suffering, because teachers aren't getting paid enough but we need a new stadium?"
Chancellor Walter Wendler agrees that academics should be and are a priority, but he says in both the football and basketball conferences, SIU has two of the worst facilities housing two of the better teams.
"We spend $1 million a year for new faculty above and beyond what we have, a couple million for scholarships and assistantships--all in the way of academics. We're making improvements to the library. You put that together it's $480 million. Only $76 million is for the arena and football field improvements, so in many ways, it's a very modest amount of the whole investment," Wendler said.
Some students agree and say if the face of SIU is its sports teams, sports facilities should not be neglected.
"From the inside the stadium looks well kept, it's just when you drive by on Highway 51, it looks like rust and it doesn't look that great," said sophomore Aaron Regusa.
Many students say face lifts for McAndrew Field and SIU Arena shouldn't be paid out of their pockets. Tuition and fees will increase $1000 per year for incoming freshman, and $500 a year for currently enrolled students starting fall semester 2006.