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Editorial

University facilities struggle under record enrollment

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September 18, 2009

The Student Voice editorial board believes that UW-River Falls is accepting too many new students, and causing over-crowding and unfair conditions that adversely affect the entire student population.

The University increased its enrollment this academic year by roughly 10%, serving approximately 6,500 students. Obviously, this increase says several positive things about UW-River Falls: this University is creating for itself a positive image that is attracting prospective students; that image is strong enough to bring in those new students in the midst of a nationwide economic recession; and that increased enrollment equates to an increased monetary inflow, coming directly on the heels of the State Legislature asking for $3 million of our money back.

But increased enrollment also comes at a cost.

Residence Life, the campus organization in charge of on-campus housing, was forced to relocate 48 first-year females into the Best Western hotel directly across from campus. Because the University cannot legally charge those students more for housing they didn’t choose to live in, Residence Life has to cover the difference between 48 room & board fees and the semester bill for the hotel, a difference of $18,000. In a year when every department on campus is being asked to make cuts and “tighten their belts,” this represents a significant chunk of change that could be used for countless other purposes. To be fair, however, South Fork 2 is in the works right now to create 240 more student rooms on campus.

Beyond housing pressures, the increased student population is having severe and adverse negative effects on dining services, particularly in the Riverside Commons. The foyer area reserved for backpacks can become so cluttered that students are forced to jump over small mountains of book bags as they search for scarce bare patches of ground to stash their valuables. The problem is compounded by long lines at not only the entrance lines, but the food lines inside. This causes harsh wait times which can add stress students trying to eat in between classes. And to cap it all off, the Commons is so small and crowded that there is not enough seating to accommodate everyone who eats there. This has caused drastic reactions, including people simply standing and eating, or sitting on the floors violating fire codes.

These are problems that can be fixed by simply by capping admission numbers and sticking to it. Perhaps admission standards are too low and need to be reevaluated, or perhaps admissions just can’t count. Either way, UWRF is too crowded, and the negative side effects are betraying the goals of this University.