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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Ever-increasing enrollment rates raise questions

The high number of students usually leads to the cafeteria being heavily congested

The university should consider slowing down its rate of enrollment.  In the 5 years I have attended the University of Massachusetts Boston, causeway congestion has been a constant nuisance. That nuisance is fast becoming a real problem.

The student population is expected to increase by 3200 students in the fall 2014 semester, leading me to wonder if the campus really has room for everyone.

Certain departments began feeling the squeeze soon after the university began its concentrated effort to admit more students in 2011. The university has been very effective in reaching the goals but the influx of students has been an administrative nightmare. In 2011, the large number of newly-enrolled biology students left the department scrambling to find space for all of them.

That problem is being reflected when it comes time to pick classes.

I have become accustomed to being able to take my time when picking my classes for an upcoming semester, usually waiting to deal with the process when I’d worked through my current load.

Due to the high enrollment numbers, class space is at a premium, thus more students are finding themselves on waiting lists for classes they need. Picking classes has become a far more stressful task to complete.

The strain is not intolerable, but the change is not positive. I am not looking forward to a Bridgewater State-style race to pick classes. I have personally witnessed students at BSU obsess for weeks  making schedules, and back up schedules, and staying up till midnight to be the first to start enrolling, all in the middle of the semester. Is that where UMass Boston is heading? Do we want to go there?

The Integrated Science Center which is on schedule for completion in fall 2014, will free up space for the projected 16,522 students expected to be on campus on in the fall.  However, issues regarding space will remain.

The high number of students is compounding traffic issues.  The shuttle buses are understandably running slower because of construction, but there are more students than ever in need of the shuttle bus service. Will the university be able to effectively transport the new students it intends to recruit?

The Campus Center cafeteria, of which there are plans to renovate over the summer, also operates at capacity during certain hours of the day. The hope is that the changes will make the space accessible to more students, and be completed by the start of the fall semester, but whether the changes will result in sufficient space or be completed in time is unclear. Can UMass Boston feed its growing population in an efficient way that is enjoyable to students?

Low temperatures make most students opt to use the catwalk rather than brave the cold outside. Last week there were so many students, staff and faculty members trying to maneuver through the catwalk that two-way traffic flow between the Campus Center and Wheatley was impossible to navigate.

A large group of people trying to get into the Campus Center got stuck at a dead stop for minutes, and when they began to flow through, people trying to get into the catwalk were forced to stand and wait.

I do not want to be an alarmist and I am not suggesting that the university is being neglectful, but it did seem at the time that if an emergency occurred people would have been trapped, stuck perhaps just long enough to cause panic. Will there be enough room in the halls for people to move quickly to safety in the event of an emergency?

I have felt at home on the small campus with around 10,000 students. I have never felt lost in the crowd . I have made friends with people simply by walking by them day after day. I think a small population of students takes pressure off of students to socialize. Being in a small group allows me to get involved on my own time and not feel like I am missing out on something.

I have made many friends through hallway encounters. That type of interaction may become impossible as the hallways become too crowded for conversation, and it may make students feel left out or more alone in a sea classmates. Will UMass Boston become less close-knit and friendly with a larger population?