Record Enrollment Causes Concern And Excitement For Faculty and Staff

by Erin Bone and Emili JohnsonStaff Writers

This fall, Simpson is seeing a record number of first-year and transfer students, and adjustments have been made to accommodate the large class.

To prepare for the large enrollment, Simpson added more Liberal Arts Seminars, a new wing to Barker Hall and additional parking, but there are still several concerns from returning students. Some of these concerns stem from feelings of abandonment as a result of accommodating for the larger class, while many staff and faculty members are supportive of the opportunity to work with more students.

This year alone, 412 first-year and 84 transfer students are registered as full-time students. With numbers like these, many concerns have been voiced regarding housing. Mandy Fox, director of resident life, believes the housing situation for first-year students is not out of the ordinary.

“We have a high percentage of residential students, around 97 percent or above,” Fox said.

She also mentioned there was no need to put first-years into temporary housing.

Another source of high anxiety revolves around parking. Several upperclassmen have voiced complaints about where parking permits are allowing Barker and Kresge Hall residents – primarily first-year students – the option of parking.

“It just doesn’t make much sense,” Senior Jenna Simpson said. “The Colonial/Washington and Station Square lots are not even close to where the freshmen live, but when they park there the people who actually live in these buildings have no place to park.”

Chris Frerichs, director of security, is aware of the distress caused by parking.

“We are always evaluating the parking situation and looking for ways to improve and also address any concerns or issues,” Frerichs said.

The security office does not make decisions on which parking lots students may use, and there have all ready been 1,030 cars registered this year, limiting parking options. There are still spots available, though.

“Be flexible when considering your parking options. There are always open spaces in the McBride/Baseball lot,” Frerichs said.

Some upperclassmen have complained about having problems getting into 100 and 200 level courses. Nancy St. Clair, professor of English, said this shouldn’t be an issue.

“If advising is done right, no matter how many first-year students we have, this should not be a problem,” said St. Clair. She says not getting into a lower level class needed for a major is a consequence of waiting until senior year to take the class.

As far as her class load goes, St. Clair says she feels like she’s very busy, not over loaded, but others on staff definitely are.

“Simpson is fortunate in having a dedicated faculty, but the faculty and staff is feeling the strain of Simpson being highly sought out school,” St. Clair said.

She feels the growing numbers are a good thing, but adds, “Everyone benefits from smaller classes and lighter loads for the faculty.”

Although they may have a few more responsibilities, most of the faculty are excited for the school year. Professor of Psychology Sal Meyers is greatly enthused and impressed.

“They look like a really good group and I’m all ready having fun with my LAS class,” Meyers said.

She also said that, besides having 36 people in a class that caps at 35, she hasn’t seen any problems relating to oversized classes within the Psychology Department.

Assistant Athletic Director Ron Peterson agrees and feels that his classes are no bigger than usual. He is also pleased with the number and character of freshman athletes, especially in the football and cross-country/track and field domain. “We’re excited for our numbers and this has been a great recruiting class,” Peterson said.

President John Byrd said the number of new students is something to be embraced and he’s surprised at the number of first-years this fall. One of Byrd’s main focuses as leader of the college is getting more diversity on campus starting with recruitment. For this school year, there are first-year and transfer students from 13 different states.

“We hope to continue to bring more diversity to Simpson and hopefully double the number of students of color on campus,” Byrd said.