Campus reputation and attitude changing for the better

Ever since stepping foot on campus, I have never once regretted coming here. However, at times I’ve gotten different feelings from my fellow students.

At times, my enthusiasm has been curbed because of the perceived negativity I’ve felt from others about the school that has provided me and so many more with countless opportunities.

And yes, I understand. Coming from a town 20 minutes from Indiana State, I understand the feeling of animosity toward the university you’ve grown up around. You’ve known it your entire life and a majority of your high school classmates go there.

No matter how good the university actually is, your perception of it is changed just by your proximity to it.

This thought hadn’t really resurfaced into my mind until last week when one of my professors asked my class this question: “If USI’s tuition was $25,000, would you still go here?” Not one student in the class raised their hand. I hesitated, then for whatever reason, kept it down.

The moment lingered in my head for the rest of the day. Indiana University’s tuition is about $25,000. However, I feel I’ve been given more opportunities at USI than I ever could have gotten at IU, and quickly told myself that of course, I was more than happy with my decision to attend USI rather than IU, Purdue, or any other state school.

So, what is at the back of students’ minds telling them that USI is not as valuable of an educational experience as other universities in the state with higher tuitions?

Perhaps it is just that. Maybe, just maybe, we feel that we aren’t getting everything we can from USI because tuition is so much lower than any other university in the state. Even though the price of tuition is without a doubt an instrumental factor in why students choose USI, it shouldn’t subconsciously change how we feel about it.

So to really see how students feel about their experiences here, I decided to ask some students a simple question: what would you rate your experience and perspective of USI on a scale of 1-10?

The positivity of the answers blew me away. Out of 20 students, three said 10. Thirteen said either eight or nine. Three of the students said seven and one said six.

Students brought up their opportunities to join organizations and meet people, accessibility of professors and the beauty of the campus as reasons why they have enjoyed their experience here. A few added that they “love this school” and that it has “molded them into a more well-rounded individual.”

To me, this proved that other USI students felt as positive about their experience here as me. But that still didn’t answer my question: why do feelings toward USI seem so negative and why do those positive answers change when tuition is suddenly equal to other universities in the state?

I realized my answer. What I was feeling from other students wasn’t negativity or animosity towards USI, it was a lack of pride. USI students wear IU t-shirts to class. They are hesitant to tell other people that they go here.

Evansville residents are notorious for making fun of USI. They feel like being a student here doesn’t quite stack up to being a student at Purdue or IU.

But in my opinion, that attitude is changing, and for good reason.

We go to a school that is just over 50 years old, and look at all we’ve accomplished: the campus is constantly expanding to accommodate our growing student population, we have the best nursing school in the state, an accredited college of business, a vibrant and growing college of liberal arts that continues to add new disciplines and a college of science, engineering and education that is always sending students into meaningful careers, as well as medical school and other graduate studies.

So maybe we should have a little more pride in where we go to school. It only makes sense that pride and quality of experience would go hand in hand. Nevertheless, it seems like the former is slowly trying to catch up to the latter here on the west side.