Editorial: We’ve outgrown ourself, when will there be enough

Editorial: ed·i·to·ri·al
[ed-i-tawr-ee-uhl, -tohr-] noun:
An article that represents the official viewpoint
of a newspaper on a topic of public interest.

Arkansas Tech University made yet another accomplishment since its opening in 1909: record breaking enrollment. Seventeen years to be exact. The feat is not only awe-inspiring, and something to strive for, but it’s a reflection of the institution this university has evolved into.

However, one must stop to pause when considering the 12,007 students that broke that enrollment. Are they enough? Growth, in several different relative situations, is a good thing. But is perpetual growth a good thing?

Hypothetically, let’s say Tech were to strive for 20 years of record breaking enrollment. The evolution of degree programs, staffing and security are just a few instances in where university attention must be redirected for continued growth. And while 20 years is still a landmark in the future, the burdens of operating a university of that size are already starting to rear their ugly heads.

First, it’s notoriously known that Chamber’s Cafeteria is not somewhere you want to be during the noon to 1 p.m. lunch rush Monday through Friday. That’s not because the food is bad or the students stink; it’s because the cafeteria is turned over one and a half times in the one main lunch hour alone. Many say the renovation was something that obviously needed to happen, but should enrollment increase, will another renovation be due just years after the last 2013 renovation?

Second, it’s a common complaint of students that parking is an issue. In fact, Wyatt Watson, director of institutional research, said in an email that Tech sees an average of 6,500 students pass through the main Tech campus during a Monday to Friday school week, as well as 800 employees.

“How many of those people who happen to be on campus at the same time taking up parking spaces,” Watson said, “is much less.”

Let us be clear – we’re not beseeching the university for a parking complex or additional parking. We’re simply commenting on the turn over the university itself sees during the week.

Finally, bed space on campus. Roush residence hall was forced to close its doors Aug. 20 due to mold found growing under the windows and in other parts of the hall. A total of 108 males were displaced, and forced to double bunk in South Hall, as well as take up residence at Lake Point, a facility owned by Tech and notorious for housing “overflow” students.
Tommy Fields, assistant dean for Residence Life, shared that that brings the current “operational bed count” to 2,772 beds, a number that doesn’t reflect Lake Point housing.

When we look at the physical state of the university, we see growth that’s gotten out of hand. Growth that, we might have to admit, we haven’t kept up with. So what else are we going to have to sacrifice to keep up with enrollment? An increase in student fees? A larger student to professor ratio?
When will there be enough?