Roughly 800 student customers disappeared from the Palouse this spring after enrollment at the University of Idaho and Washington State University dipped.. Concerns over the lost student resources have sparked discussions across both communities and even surfaced during Tuesday night’s Pullman City Council meeting.
The universities each lost about 400 students since this time last year. The Moscow campus went from 10,578 students to 10,184 while the Pullman campus went from 17,335 to 16,929.
The loss of students means each community will see a drop in everything from revenues to volunteers
WSU student Sen. Jordan Gainey addressed decreasing enrollment by asking the council if there was anything that could be done to make the city more attractive to potential students.
“With enrollment down, competition is going to increase very much,” she said.
Councilwoman Ann Heath said downtown Pullman is an area many students don’t tap into, but should.
“I think part of the need is for people on campus (to see downtown). Don’t only talk about downtown, but go downtown.” More foot traffic downtown could increase the vitality of area businesses and reflect well upon the university and the city itself.
Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson said the city and businesses have tried to meet the needs of students. He noted that Quiznos, a business requested by students, has been successful. He also suggested that students network with friends and family on the west side of the state to get additional businesses or services.
“Those are terrific contacts on the west side,” he said. “The message just needs to get out.” Now compare that with this pronouncement from PARDner Uncle Buck:
Pullman flourishes because of Washington State University. WSU thrives because it can attract many excellent professors. Many professors would not have moved to Pullman if they knew it was soon to be a big-box clone of a thousand other places.As I recently pointed out, WSU Vancouver seems to be thriving quite well despite the presence of three Wal-Marts there.
I would think what attracts professors to Pullman more than anything else is the presence of students to teach.
The next time someone asks what we can do to make Pullman more attractive to potential students, one answer might be to have these "excellent professors" get the hell out of the way and quit trying to hold Pullman back. That's the only way we'll get additional businesses (i.e. jobs and places to shop for students).
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