Editorial: Coming Up Short
Unless it’s Friday evening or Saturday morning, you’re unlikely to be able to find a suitable spot to study in Morris Library that isn’t already cramped with other students. In between classes, it’s nearly impossible to spot a seat at which you can sit in Trabant and enjoy your Chick-fil-A. If you’re in a rush, then Caesar Rodney Dining Hall probably isn’t an ideal option because of the winding lines that plague every food station at each meal of the day. Each day, more evidence points to one conclusion: campus is overcrowded.
But these problems are only surface-level. In the coming years, with the closing of residence halls and the inability to quickly replace them, more and more students living on campus will be stuffed into triples. Not only will they have few place to eat and study comfortably — they will not be able to live comfortably at a place that’s supposed to be “home.”
But instead of heeding student calls to create more spacious study spaces or construct additional on-campus housing options before adding more students, university administrators are pushing for a rise in enrollment over the coming years. This is a seemingly senseless venture in light of the fact that the university will soon suffer from a housing shortage that will affect about 300 students.
One might presume that the university would figure out how to adequately house tuition-paying students without forcing them into crowded triples before promising prospective students a spot in the upcoming class. That, however, is far from the case.
This decision leads to the question of why housing remains increasingly expensive — in many cases more expensive than already astronomical off-campus rent — if the university is unable to provide a comfortable or desirable option for every student who seeks to live on campus.
If the university chose to charge less to live in the dilapidated Christiana Towers, for example, then students might not rush to pay Lang Development $800 per month in rent for an apartment without windows in some bedrooms.
Contrary to the university’s profit-hungry and status-hungry ambitions, decreasing, or simply halting, enrollment is a much more logical route. By decreasing the amount of students accepted to the university, the university would be able to maximize its resources and ensure that all students can enjoy an environment conducive to learning. There would actually be places to study, beds to sleep in and room to breathe. A welcome departure from current conditions.
A desire to raise enrollment is further complicated by the fact that the number of college-aged students is on the decline. Increasing the acceptance rate in a period of both decreased demand and overcrowding seems fruitless, and would also seem to require a decrease in admissions standards.
But again, at the most basic level, there is not enough space for students to live on-campus. This fact alone should be enough to dissuade administrators from increasing both enrollment and tuition prices in the coming years. This is a campus bound by geographic constraints, and we can only get so big. The best option is to optimize the university’s options within these constraints — and optimization does not mean population maximization.
Perhaps if administrators were the ones paying to share a 19-by-12 room with two other people — making decisions from a dorm room, instead of a mansion, presidential or otherwise — then they wouldn’t be so quick to force these conditions upon students.
Editorials reflect the majority opinion of the editorial board, led this week by Alex Eichenstein. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.