University controversy affects admission


Following the controversial protests that grasped the community and the country, the University of Missouri has made attempts to retain student enrollment. Many students’ loyalty to the local university have wavered after the controversies.

Nicole Schroeder

Students roam the campus of the University of Missouri – Columbia. Just weeks ago, the campus was bustling with reporters around the nation, recording the controversial protests and events that occurred. These events have forced many to reconsider attending the local university.   
[divider] As enrollment deadlines for 2016 fall semester admissions at many colleges draw nearer, many prospective students are considering schools to attend for the 2016 fall semester. Recent events related to Concerned Student 1950 protests on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus, however, have the potential to affect some students’ decisions as to whether or not to attend the school next fall.
The protests, which received national attention by media sources like The New York Times and Washington Post, concerned the racism some students said they experienced at the school and subsequently led to the former University President Tim Wolfe’s resignation. It is the issues brought to light in these protests, however, that has some students such as senior Sydney Hemwall reconsidering the things they look for in a college.
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[/spoiler] “My greater focus with school has been how to pay for it. With a school pursuing me, that’s more opportunity for more money,” Hemwall said. “Since Concerned Student 1950, it has changed my focus on the money to where do students feel safest and that they have majority control over the school that they’re paying for so they can adjust to their needs and get the best education and experience.”
Hemwall isn’t the only one who now considers safety and control to be an important factor in deciding which college to attend. MAC Scholars sponsor Deborah Greene said many students in the club also seem more concerned with the feelings of acceptance and safety they have at the various schools they are considering since the events at Mizzou took place.
“You want to definitely go to a place where things are fair and equal, because there’s a difference,” Greene said. “Go wherever you feel comfortable, because going to college, you need to be comfortable [in the school you choose].”
The new attention on safety and on the University of Missouri has been receiving doesn’t necessarily mean bad things, however. Director of Admissions Chuck May said though there was an initial decline in new student applications to the school, it’s still too soon to tell whether or not the Concerned Student 1950 protests will have an affect on the student enrollment next year or in years to come.
“Factors that might impact our enrollment both positively and negatively change every year. We simply try to do our best to keep students and families informed,” May said. “When the events began, we started communicating directly with admitted students and their parents to help answer questions they may have.”
Still, senior Abe Drury said he worries the recent events on Mizzou’s campus will negatively affect enrollment next year in some way or another, even if only a little. He said he thinks the school’s best option is to offer more incentives to incoming freshmen in order to keep enrollment numbers from dropping in the coming years due to the protests.
“A lot of people are deciding what colleges to go to around now, so I assume that enrollment will suffer a little bit. Mizzou will recover, I imagine, but next year’s freshmen class might be a little smaller than average,” Drury said. “I think that MU could combat this by either increasing financial aid options or by trying to come to a quick and valid resolution to the problems on campus.”
Even if these events might dissuade some students from attending the school in the fall semester, Drury said he doesn’t believe the problems are large enough to convince him to attend another school, particularly with the financial benefits he receives because of his father’s employment at the University.
“In the past and present, my thoughts have been that Mizzou is a very good state school that is financially friendly,” Drury said. “It would take a lot of problems to make paying more to go somewhere else worth it. And also, I don’t plan on becoming a racist in college so I might have an easy opportunity to be a part of the solution.”
Drury isn’t alone in his devotion to Mizzou. In fact, Greene said, many other students in MAC Scholars who were previously considering attending Mizzou in the fall still plan on applying in spite of the controversial attention the school has received.
“I know that we have several students in MAC scholars that are interested in Mizzou,” Greene said. “I don’t think that it’s going to change their opinion and maybe just more hope of things getting better for them, but I haven’t heard of anybody changing their minds as of yet.”
As for the students at the University, Hemwall said she believes many are simply looking for more influence at Mizzou and hopes the school will provide that in the future.
“I don’t want to have a repeat of Concerned Student each time a new issue is brought up and needs to be dealt with. Yes, the students do have a voice via the protests but it’s not a proper one. It’s messy and gives way too much room for error as has already been shown,” Hemwall said. “I think Mizzou could learn something with letting everything be a little more student run when it comes to the board of curators and making decisions on expanding and cutting programs. If the students have more control, there will be better information on what should be improved or changed to work efficiently and effectively for students and educators.”
Whether students are looking for a stronger voice or simply a safer campus, May said he simply hopes students remain aware of the positive changes and many incentives the University has to offer as they decide where to attend in the future.
“This is a challenging time at the University of Missouri. That said, we are proud of the large number of faculty, staff and students who have come together and are working to make Mizzou a more inclusive campus that is respectful of our many diverse individuals and groups in our community,” May said. “We think Mizzou will be a very exciting place to be in the coming year with positive energy and exciting changes and hope you will be a part of our campus community.”
Did the protests change your opinion about the University of Missouri?