CARBONDALE — An upcoming town hall meeting coordinated by African-American Southern Illinois University Carbondale alumni will focus on how to address declining enrollment of minority students at the university.
According to a flyer put out by the group, Concerned Black Alumni and Citizens for SIU-C, the event will give attendees a chance to share ideas on how to increase African-American enrollment and to encourage the university to hire more minority faculty and administrators.
The meeting will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Eurma C. Hayes Center, 441 E. Willow St. in Carbondale.
“We understand that SIU-C is experiencing hardship; nevertheless, we still want to ensure that African American and other minority programs survive this storm. This can only be done if we come together and strategize how we can recruit more African American students to attend SIU-C,” the flyer states.
The group will also focus on the Financial Sustainability Plan approved by the SIU Board of Trustees in July 2017 and on the ongoing academic reorganization.
The Rev. Charles Koen, a prominent Southern Illinois civil rights activist and a member of the group, said he and other alumni began meeting several months ago to discuss the problems facing SIUC.
“We’re mobilizing around the state and Missouri as well as certain parts of Kentucky … to motivate more students to come to SIU,” Koen said.
Ra Joy, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy’s running mate, will attend the event, a campaign spokeswoman confirmed.
“There will be speakers from various parts of the state who will be coming, and they will be speaking, basically, about the need to mobilize in their communities, to encourage young people to come to SIUC,” Koen said.
Koen said discussion won’t be restricted to issues related to African-Americans and that all are welcome.
“The issue is broader than any ethnic group. It’s about maintaining the anchor of Southern Illinois’ economic and political, educational base,” Koen said.
Overall student enrollment has decreased about 19 percent between fall 2013 and fall 2017, while African-American enrollment dropped about 30 percent, according to university data.