Recruitment needs emphasis

By Editorial Board


Recruitment, enrollment and student retainment are all concerns of any university, especially when the economy is taken into consideration.

Beginning with the Feb. 14 shootings, there has been a rise in the number of violent crimes on campus and in DeKalb. The safety of NIU and the surrounding area was already in question.

And then Toni Keller went missing.

Since Antinette “Toni” Keller went missing on Oct. 14, the question of NIU’s safety has been a prominent topic of discussion. It’s hard to walk anywhere on campus without hearing students talk about transferring. The university administration has been bombarded with the questions and concerns of current and future NIU parents.

While most of this fear and uncertainty was spawned during the developments made in the Keller investigation, these feeling were continuously fueled and perpetuated by NIU administration and their inability to communicate with the campus and the DeKalb community.

While the university cannot be blamed for the incident itself, the aftermath of something like this deserves immediate response. NIU hasn’t been very vocal about the incident to students, faculty, parents and other community members.

Open communication and transparency are qualities emphasized in politics. These concepts can easily be applied to NIU to help the university begin to rebuild its positive image.

NIU needs to come out to the public and talk openly about the questions regarding the safety and quality of NIU.

Letters dated Nov. 3 were sent from the Office of the President to the parents and families of students addressing issues that should have been talked about three weeks ago. This letter including an FAQ about campus safety. Imagine the sighs of relief parents could have experienced if President John Peters had done this earlier.

While a letter is one way to go, along with Peters’ various statements released on the NIU Today website, NIU needs to recognize that it neglected the community in a time of desperate need.

There is no point in dwelling in the past, however. University officials need to look to the future and begin mapping out a plan to retain current students and bring prospective students to campus. There are various ways this can be done, and the Northern Star Editorial Board has a few suggestions.

To begin with, all of NIU’s good qualities and successful programs are buried behind negative press. This school has plenty to be proud of, and even more to brag about, so while officials address the negative, they could also spend time shining some light on the positives. It seems current and prospective NIU families have either forgotten or are unaware of NIU’s accomplishments.

Here are some ideas: NIU just received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Veteran’s Education, our law school was ranked in the “Top 20 law schools in the nation based on value by preLaw magazine,” the Women’s Resource Center just received a $300,00 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and NIU got its largest grant in history, $68.5 million to create a broadband network that will span nine counties in the region. These are just a few great things to outline, and every department on campus probably has something worth promoting.

Next, try to remember Peters’ University Address from this year. This speech outlined an initiative called ‘Vision 2020,’ and we haven’t heard anything else about it since. While looking to the future is important, the university needs something a little more current and a little less catchy. Can we get a ‘Vision 2010,’ NIU? Even though committees for the 2020 initiative are still being formed, it wouldn’t hurt for NIU to release a plan of action as to when we can start seeing the university working on the goals Peters outlined. The actual ‘Vision 2020′ plan may not be concrete yet, but the public would appreciate and possibly get excited if they knew what you’re doing to get the ball rolling.

And finally, with the issue of safety, we encourage NIU public officials to step out bravely and meet this issue head on. Parents are always going to be wary when sending their child out into the world, and recent events haven’t made NIU seem all that appealing.

The letter sent out on Nov. 3 is an OK start, even if it was a little too late. NIU needs to continue to open its arms to distraught families and students, so NIU can begin to move forward.