Enrollment drop from Mizzou protests worse than feared

As predicted, last year’s racial uprising has cost the University of Missouri close to a quarter of its freshmen class, leaving the school worse off than it had initially anticipated.

Administrators had predicted a drop of 1,500 in overall enrollment, but the actual figure is now benchmarked at around 2,200, a decline of nearly 7 percent compared to last year’s numbers.

Most of the loss comes from Mizzou’s incoming freshmen class of just 4,799, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which represents the smallest incoming class in nearly a decade, with a shortage of more than 1,400 students compared to last year’s class.

[RELATED: Mizzou short on cash and desperate for students after semester of protests]

To make matters worse, Mizzou is also trying to dig itself out of a financial hole of $32 million brought on by both low enrollment numbers as well as state legislators who proposed cuts of $1 million to Mizzou’s allocation of state funds and $7.6 million to the UM system’s administrative funds.

The school’s already tense relationship with the state legislature intensified last year after former journalism professor Melissa Click was caught on video harassing students and swearing at police officers during on-campus protests in the fall. Click was later suspended and eventually fired, but the damage to Mizzou’s reputation had already been done.

[RELATED: Click says she was fired to appease conservatives, silence black protesters]

In a Monday press release, however, the school touted its financial successes and, oddly, its student retention rate.

“We intend to build on our success from last year, which included receiving more than $225 million in research awards, having several faculty members named to national academies that recognize their excellence, winning numerous national awards for our students’ academic achievements, and having the most successful fundraising year in Mizzou’s history,” interim chancellor Hank Foley noted.

He went on to praise his school’s “retention rate” as an indication that “students believe they can achieve their educational goals here,” boasting that students returned to campus in “strong numbers” this year while glossing over the concurrent decrease in new applications.

Perhaps in an effort to uplift the students remaining at Mizzou, The Maneater reports that the school recently hosted four mandatory “citizenship trainings” for incoming students in an effort to build a more inclusive community.

The program, which was founded in response to last school year’s protests, intentionally avoids the word “diversity,” its founder explained.

“Doesn’t matter where you come from, we are all citizens,” said Stephanie Shonekan, chairwoman of the Department of Black Studies. “So we decided to change the name of it and just focus on the values that make you a good Mizzou citizen. And if we can do that, then when anything happens, then we’ll be ready.”

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