Suitcase college for life?

For people hoping SHSU will soon lose the stigma of being a “suitcase college”, there is a good possibility those hopes will never be realized.The enrollment of commuting students has risen consistently over the last five years and the largest majority of students are from neighboring counties and cities just a short drive away. Other factors affecting student’s decisions to stay on campus during the weekends are lack of promotion of weekend activities by the university, employment opportunities and other general opportunities available, or not available, in Huntsville.Commuting students comprised 56 percent of students in fall 2001, and residents of Harris County comprised about 31 percent. The Office of Institutional Research has not officially released official numbers for fall 2002, but tentative numbers appear to be about the same. Next to Harris County, Montgomery County boasts the largest student enrollment, and both are just a short drive away.”I live in Houston and go home just about every weekend,” said Ashley Jones, freshman RTV major. Senior Marissa Morrison, who also lives in Houston, commutes to and from campus every day. “I would love to live in Huntsville, but I can’t afford to live here.” Morrison, journalism major and a single parent, said it is cheaper for her to continue living at home. “The jobs here just don’t pay well,” she said.Several other students also voiced concerns about employment opportunities in Huntsville. Competition from other students for jobs and low pay cause many students to look for work elsewhere.”The jobs here don’t pay well and there aren’t enough hours available,” said ‘B2K’, a freshman business major. “It seems like all of the jobs here pay minimum wage, and I make more than that in Houston.”Sophomores Tigee Rideaux and Willie Arnold said they feel that the university should promote and sponsor more weekend activities for students.”I come to the football games, but other than that and basketball games, there’s not much to do. They need to promote more activities on the weekends like they do these two,” Rideaux said.Perhaps the biggest complaint students had was the lack of other opportunities in Huntsville. Students would like to see a wider variety of retail stores, restaurants and things to do on the weekends.”Driving into Huntsville, it just looks dead; there’s no color,” said Tiffany Thibodeaux, freshman pre-med student. ” If you want people to stay here, it has to be more colorful, more attractive.”Several departments do not hold classes on Fridays, adding to the number of students that leave town even earlier in the week. Some of the reasons there are not Friday classes are to allow classes to be longer, and provide faculty with more time to pursue academic activities outside the classroom.”If I didn’t have class on Friday, I would be out of here Thursday afternoon,” Jones said.There are even a large number of professors who commute to Huntsville on a daily basis because of lack of adequate housing and leisure activities available.No matter what the reasons, it is obvious to people attending campus activities on the weekends that student participation is seriously lacking. With increasing numbers of commuting students and larger cities just a short drive down the road, SHSU may not ever outgrow the “suitcase college” nickname.

Leave a Reply