To the Editor:
The student leader who is criticized in your March 12 story on SIUC enrollment, Johnathan Flowers, president of the SIUC graduate student government, is an articulate, well-informed, principled leader who has done his utmost to keep graduate students informed during a terribly confusing time on the SIUC campus.
Yet Flowers has repeatedly been criticized by the administration and its supporters. The motivation for these attacks is not hard to spot: Flowers has bravely spoken up on behalf of graduate students, whose representatives have repeatedly voted to express their concern about Chancellor Montemagno's leadership, and ultimately passed a motion of no confidence in him. And I suspect I am not the only person on campus to fear that the fact that Flowers is African-American has played a role in his being singled out for criticism.
To my knowledge, there was nothing inaccurate or misleading about Flowers' report about enrollment or plans for budget cuts. Campus administrators have been warning for months that fall enrollment will decline substantially, and it would be irresponsible if the administration were not planning for the budget cuts enrollment loses would make necessary.
The administration and their supporters often cite dire enrollment projections in order to justify radical restructuring of campus. But when others mention lower enrollment or budget cuts, they shoot the messenger. Perhaps they do not want to address the fact that other Illinois campuses are already projecting increased enrollment for the fall, while this campus is mired in a divisive debate about restructuring.
SIU Faculty Association