By JAMIE STEWART
You’ve probably heard the complaints about the lines at the Bon (especially at brunch), the crowds on the weekend Pioneer Express, and the cramped housing experienced by those living in basements and converted lounges. Is this year’s massive first-year class, (fondly known as “Classzilla,”) to blame?
Though the entering 697 first-years may be creating unease on campus, many feel it is making campus a more lively and engaging place, and are also maintaining a positive attitude.
In the struggle to get acclimated to challenging overflow living situations, Director of Campus Housing Sandi Bottemiller thought that students are faring very well. “The results of a survey sent to students in overflow two weeks ago found that nine out of the 62 surveyed are ‘OK, but would move out given the choice,’ and 4 out of 62 are ‘unhappy,’” Bottemiller said. “The survey was sent to each of the 214 students in overflow housing.”
Dean of Students Anna Gonzalez remarks that even though she and her staff have had to work especially hard to facilitate the first-years, many good things have come out of having this many new people on campus. “For one thing, it makes up for the tiny junior class,” she said.
Gonzalez also mentioned “having more students helps build community. Student clubs are loving the [increased] participation they’re getting. When you’re in a forced housing situation, you have more friends just because you’re living with more people.”
Jake Behr (’19) who lives in the basement of the Manzanita dorm in the Forest housing complex, said “Being in the basement means less privacy definitely, but there’s extra room. All of us get along really well. I wouldn’t move out unless I could keep my roommates and stay in the same building.”
Behr still feels unsure about the freshman class’s impacts that are unrelated to housing, however. “The atmosphere is socially different,” Behr said. “It feels harder to make friends and connect, as the community is not as tight-knit as it would be with fewer students.”
Robert Reimanis (’17) says that while some of his peers may seem annoyed at the surge, he himself is simply “surprised.” He believes his classmates’ annoyance may be merely “annoyance with freshmen in general,” and have little to do with the strain on campus facilities. He is not worried either, as adjustments of the sort that are being made for the class of 2019 are not entirely new. “I think Akin’s basement has been used for housing before,” he remembered.
Indeed, the class of 2019 was not that much smaller than that of 2019, at roughly 600 students. Dean Gonzalez did confirm that the Admissions office will be making some adjustments for the class of 2020, however, mainly by “meeting a projected admission number settled on by our office” (The Division of Student Life).
Though many first years may be having a more difficult time adjusting to life on campus than they would in a smaller class, Gonzalez said. “It’s gratifying to see these students’ resilience… This has pushed us to be more creative with campus space, using academic buildings for student events.”