Enrollment growth hinders on-campus community

Growth on campus offers more prestige for the university but affects campus community.

The message has been sent to the administration loud and clear — recent housing shenanigans revealed students don’t want Biola to keep growing as much as it has been. And the administration realizes that Biola can’t grow as much this year as it did last year. Admissions plans to enroll about 43 fewer students in fall than last year.

But, is that reduction sufficient? Financially, it is beneficial to enroll more students. More students attending means more revenue for the school to support itself — and to support its growth.

Growth affects campus community

But, Biola’s growth extends beyond just practical issues. The larger Biola gets, the more difficult it will be to establish community. As more students are forced off campus, Biola loses the tight-knit feeling that attracts students in the first place. At what point does the administration need to cap enrollment and tend to the students who are already here? Many on campus would argue that point has passed.

Certainly, we, as students, need to recognize the university’s desire to grow. Along with increased funding, larger enrollment often brings opportunity for higher prestige and national notoriety. As we celebrated landing on U.S. News and World Report’s “Up and Coming Universities” in 2010, our administration desires our campus to gain other accolades. When Biola’s name is publicized like that, we can attract more students and gain recognition nationally and globally.

Change is a process

Still, the administration needs to recognize that those changes come in process. If growth is the goal, then these changes should be done slowly and strategically. Building and expanding dorm halls demands time, money and empty bunks before we can see another project offer on-campus growth.

Biola’s most recently renovated dorm, Horton Hall, opened in fall 2006. This dramatically increased housing space, but also meant alternate housing arrangements while it was under construction. At this point, a new dorm project will need creative solutions through funding and building. One such solution would be an intentional development of Commuter Life’s, the budding Biola Housing Network, which could place students in surrounding neighborhoods.

As was discussed in last week’s senate meeting, Housing cannot simply assume that students are content just because some of the commotion has died down. We encourage the deans who met at the Council of Academic and Student Administration to actively gather students’ feedback, and to intentionally listen to and consider it. Ultimately, it is our hope that the feedback from students reaches the President’s Administrative Council to bring about fundamental change in Biola’s approach to the ever-increasing problem of overcrowding.

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