Though we at the Kaimin are unafraid to criticize the University of Montana for its actions when the situation calls for it, at the end of the day, our reporters and editors are still UM students with pride in our school. And this week marks a rather monumental success for the University: Our enrollment is up for the first time in a decade.
In our years at UM, we’ve watched enrollment steadily fall until it dropped below 10,000 students for the first time in 30 years last semester. We reported on the downward trend, analyzing the issues that led to this enrollment crisis. And it was disheartening.
But in the wake of an energizing homecoming weekend, and a monumental win by the Griz, we get to celebrate another win — we climbed back over that 10,000 mark, with 10,106 students this semester. It’s a good week to be a Griz.
And we’re with President Seth Bodnar when he says this success was a joint effort by the students, staff, faculty and alumni who’ve made this school better and kept it afloat. Pat yourself on the back, you helped us get here.
But this win is not the end of the work that still needs to be done. We’re still nearly 6,000 students short of where we were at in 2011. And this 3% increase does not mean the systemic issues behind those lost students have been fixed.
On Monday, a Daily Montanan story shared the stories of UM law students who said they were discouraged from reporting sexual assault, this supression of women mirrored in a lawsuit alleging UM’s discrimination against women.
And on Monday night, Classics students protested possible cuts to their program, a trend that’s wracked the College of Humanities and Sciences, by writing latin words around the Oval and on the steps to Jeanette Rankin Hall. The largest words translated to “respect us” or “fear us.”
These downfalls cannot be ignored.
UM needs to be transparent and responsive to its students when they point out problems, especially problems this big.
Where are the department-specific enrollment numbers? Will we lose any more programs? Will UM respond to the mounting claims of suppression from its female students, faculty and administrators alike?
As much as we’re happy to see the deteriorating dorms renovated and plans for a state-of-the-art Food Zoo, those promises are not enough to keep students content. We want to have diverse class options in our majors. We want to feel safe on our campus. We want to be heard.
So, UM leadership, if you want this enrollment increase to be a continuing trend, we urge you to listen to the students you’re trying so hard to appeal to.
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