Crowded New Class Causes Challenges

The incoming Class of 2014 is one of the largest in Colgate’s history. Of the 850 first-years enrolled, a historical number of multicultural students are now a part of the Colgate community. The number of international students at Colgate has risen from five percent to over eight percent. A larger class size has also brought up several logistical issues in relation to student life and academic planning. Colgate has been working hard to manage the increased number of students by making changes to student dining, class registration and housing.

The Curtiss E. Frank Dining Hall (Frank) is the main source of on-campus dining, and as such, has been particularly affected with the sudden growth of the student body. Although 70 seats have been added to the dining hall, Colgate Dining Services is encouraging the use of other pre-existing dining options instead of commissioning any physical construction to the dining hall itself.

“We made some changes at the [Cutting Edge Bistro], we’re offering a lunch program to attract people there so we don’t have an overcrowded situation at lunch time [at Frank],” Director of Dining Services George Murray said. “110 Broad is open for dinner for the group down there, so we have made changes to accommodate the number of people. So far it’s been working pretty well.”

The O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) is another possible meal option for those wanting to avoid the congestion of Frank during prime meal times. Murray is confident that Dining Services will be able to effectively and efficiently deal with whatever issues the increased number of students might bring throughout the upcoming school year.

Besides physical space constraints, the excess of freshmen caused concern among many students that enrolling in their class of choice would be difficult for the fall semester due to limits on class size. The Office of the Registrar attempted to curb scheduling issues through various preemptive efforts even before students arrived on campus. Although temporary staff was hired and additional classes were added, problems still exist.

Caps in the number of students per class and the number of students competing for available seats in a course has made this year particularly demanding on everyone involved in the scheduling process.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had this many problems trying to get into a class,” sophomore Stuart Mahoney said, while waiting in line at the Registrar’s Office. “The classes open to both first and second-year students are especially packed. I wish that Colgate would have thought this out better before they added eight-hundred and fifty more kids into the mix.”

The additional students have also impacted housing assignments for the Fall 2010 semester. The fifth floor of Curtis Hall, formerly sophomore housing, was reassigned to accommodate first-year students. Rooms that had previously been singles and doubles became doubles and triples, respectively, to maximize the limited amount of space available to first-years.

Down the hill, 110 Broad Street, recently acquired by the University, was renovated and retrofitted to house first-years involved in the Leadership Opportunities for Tomorrow (LOFT) program.

“We made sure that every student had the accommodating square footage that you need to be able to live,” Assistant Director of Residential Education Megan Wyett said in response to a question regarding the possibility of overcrowding in certain residence halls.

Upperclassmen housing was not dramatically affected by the increase in first-years, with university apartments, college houses, Greek-affiliated houses and the townhouse communities still being the primary residence options.

All the administrators interviewed agreed that managing the Class of 2014 will be a logistical challenge, but that with time will come experience and solutions.

“The diversity that the Class of 2014 brings to campus in all realms was wanted and needed and so I think [the Colgate administration] will use that excitement and roll with the punches,” Wyett said.

As far as future classes are concerned, when asked if the incoming first-year class was a sign of things to come, Senior Associate Dean of Admission, Karen Giannino, was quick to respond “No, absolutely not. We can’t. Colgate isn’t designed to be that big, the Class of 2014 was a bit of an anomaly. Next year we will be right back down to our traditional size [of enrolled students].”