Pass/Fail: NIU enrollment push pays off for diversity; Do research on charities before donating

By Blake Glosson

Pass: NIU enrollment push pays off for diversity

As the vice president of the Student Advisory Council for the School of Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences, I know firsthand how much focus is being directed toward retaining students while attracting new ones — especially international students.

Thanks to efforts made by the NIU administration, student life and determined student leaders all over campus, recruitment and retention rates showed signs of progress over the past year.

For one thing, the number of international students at NIU has increased by 847 to 1,090 students — or 28.7 percent — since last fall, according to a Sept. 10 NIU news release.

This number includes 200 new international graduate students and 43 international undergraduates. Additionally, the retention rate for freshman rose by 5 percent from last year.

These numbers suggest NIU is growing in its reputation, it’s making a good first impression and providing students with benefits and opportunities that keep them engaged.

Advantages include a wide variety of student organizations, clubs and activities.

This diversity of options allows students to be part of something influential and gives them a chance to get plugged in, no matter their forte.

Students don’t just want to enjoy their experience; they also want to feel like they’re getting a return on investment that exceeds the costs — monetary and opportunity.

Students want to be confident the years they spend at NIU are profitable; they don’t want to feel like they’re missing out on something better.

According to these numbers, NIU has made significant strides.

As long as NIU puts its students first and advertises its product effectively, it should see even more progress over the next year.

Fail: Do research on charities before donating

October means National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which translates to pink ribbons plastered on nearly everything.

I support the cause, but I don’t entirely agree with the process. The biggest problem is in the way people “donate” – particularly when it’s done by buying a product at the store with a pink ribbon on the label. If you’re donating money to anything, it would suit you well to do some background research to see how much is actually being donated and how that money is used.

Many companies will advertise their support for a cause but will donate smaller amounts of their profit than you would think when considering buying that item. If you discovered a shoe company advertising with the pink ribbon promised to donate one penny to the American Cancer Society for every pair of shoe sold, would you still be influenced to buy that brand of shoe over another?

In this scenario, you could donate a dollar directly to the American Cancer Society and make 100 times the difference. Other companies might donate a portion of their profits in a way you don’t see beneficial.

Another thing to consider when you see the pink ribbon on packaging: If you buy a product that might be cancer causing — whether it’s a food, cleaning product or other chemical substance — your efforts might be counterproductive.

On top of all of this, it doesn’t really sit right with me when a company masks a virtuous face to support a cause, when in reality they’re just hoping to initiate growth for their own business.

To be clear, purchasing a product because it has the pink ribbon isn’t wrong. But, if you truly want to help in the fight against breast cancer, give to a charity that uses 100 percent of your donations in a way you understand and agree with. This way, you can walk away knowing you actually made a difference.