This past September four of the current leaders of the University of Missouri System announced their efforts to improve diversity on the Mizzou campus.
Mizzou is still dealing with the aftermath of their 2015 fall semester. During that time incidents of racism spurred many protests, football players refused to play, a student refused to eat, and a chancellor chose to step down.
Moving forward, the school has faced a sharp decline in their enrollment forcing them to close down four of their dorms and to propose major budget cuts.
Mizzou’s enrollment decline has come at a time when other UM System schools have reported a spike in their enrollments. The University of Missouri-St Louis, Missouri State University, and University of Missouri-Kansas City have all reported an increase in this year’s enrollment in comparison to last year’s.
“Enrollment for Fall Semester 2016 is 16,944 (people),” said UMKC Director of Media Relations John Martellaro. “That’s up 1.47% over Fall 2015 (16,669).”
It is because of the decline in Mizzou’s enrollment that the UM System leaders have set a four-year goal of increasing minority faculty members on the Mizzou campus by up to 13.4 percent. Their hope is to have the number of minority faculty members exceed the national average within the four years.
Mizzou’s interim chancellor, Hank Foley, also announced that $1 million has been set aside to recruit minority postdoctoral fellows in hopes of keeping them on as faculty members.
Many students view Mizzou’s enrollment decline as important because tuition is a sort of by-product of enrollment.
“It really does affect us all,” a UMKC student said. “When something is going on with one school the system increases all our tuition because of the budget cuts.”
While there is no exact evidence to back up this claim, the Board of Curators did in fact vote to increase tuition for nonresident undergraduates as well as graduate and professional students earlier this year.
Although, these increases are not believed to have affected enrollments in any way.
“UMKC has not experienced an enrollment decline since 2004,” said Martellaro. “We attribute this increase to growing awareness of the value UMKC offers, in terms of low student-faculty ratio, high-quality faculty, and a vibrant campus life and learning experience.”
All of which Mizzou also has. So what exactly is the problem? “Safety,” students say. Many of Mizzou’s students felt unsafe and uncomfortable during the 2015-2016 school year.
Before attending Mizzou, Shauna* remembers being excited for all that the school had to offer her. Then, she says, a lot changed.
“It was kind of scary and at one point I just wanted to go back home,” she said. “There is no reason that anything like that should have been going on in 2015. Students should be able to feel safe in their own school.”