Consensus Opinion: Enrollment strains resources

While we applaud Tech and the admissions office for yet another year of successful recruitment and what appears to be a robust freshman class, especially in light of the increased enrollment figures for female students, we here at the Technique feel that the current rate of student growth is both unsustainable and detrimental to the overall student experience.

The events of these first few days on campus illustrate a shocking level of unpreparedness in terms of server space and online access for the number of newly-incoming and returning students. Both OSCAR and Buzzport were down Friday afternoon, making it difficult to impossible for older students to take advantage of the fifteen-minute-apart time slots, and multiple departments had difficulty opening up classes to general registration on time, or even scheduling the appropriate number of class spots for their graduating seniors. Later in the week both T-square and Zimbra were down, stranding students without syllabi and readings for classes or any emails about updates in any new classes, clubs or even financial and registration information.

In terms of facilities, the ever crowded student center was a sardine can this week, and the food court was packed beyond usefulness between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. While having all of the lines open during these critical hours did help, the extra tables put in to accommodate extra students makes it impossible to find seating once you do navigate your way through the check-out line.

Even more worrisome is the effect that increased enrollment is having on the educational experience. Many of us still remember our freshman dorm-rooms as triples, and those record-setting numbers are now evident in junior and senior level classes, where Tech’s prestigious Princeton Review ranking as the second-worst school in terms of professor accessibility and fourth-worst in terms of classroom discussion are easily explained by 3000-level classes with 50 to 75 students, and even 4000 level classes with over 100 students enrolled.

These same classes are often billed as advanced-level discussion classes, discussion that happens rarely to never, through little fault of the professors or students. Classroom discussion can hardly be expected from students idling for an hour or two in lecture halls after four-years without any experience with discussion, and professors should not be expected to force discussion out of the near-mob of students staring down at them from elevated rows of seats.

Of course, the resources are not available right now to employ more professors, or offer more classes. In order to keep tuition down and chisel away the $900 million deficit, very little can be changed right now. Yet, in spite of all of these problems, students will continue to enroll here.

Tech is still a prestigious institution and a financially sound decision, and the number of students who enroll after acceptance has increased over the years. Admissions should take this into account when selecting next year’s class and adjust their numbers accordingly. In financially strenuous times, with more students paying for school on their own, that number is likely to only grow

Expansion is possible, and it is not the fault of the incoming class, nor those that came before them, that campus is so crowded now. Were these boom economic times without furloughs, academic excellence fees and hiring freezes, Tech could most likely expand the number of classes offered, increase the number of servers and expand campus food options. But that is not the current economic climate, and the administration, and admissions office, must act accordingly.

The Consensus Opinion reflects the majority opinion of the Editorial Board of the Technique, but not necessarily the opinions of individual editors.