Opinion: The “Wal-Mart effect” at KSU

Opinion: College for dummies

Robert Thomas Young

Robert Thomas Young

Robert Thomas Young is a senior philosophy and psychology major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

It doesn’t take looking at the new registration numbers to see that Kent State is more crowded than ever. The local traffic and waiting lines for everything paint a clear picture of Kent State’s record enrollment.

Kent State announced a 7.56 percent increase in student enrollment one year ago for the 2010 Fall semester, totaling 41,365 students across all eight campuses. This year, both spring and summer registration was up, and Kent State had to cut off new applications to the main campus this fall due to overcrowding.

While the administration is balancing the need for more funds with tuition hikes, hiring freezes (except for coaches, apparently) and maxing out classroom capacities, little attention is being placed on the commodification of higher education and its effect on standards of learning and convenience.

Professors who would use essays for testing have been forced to convert to multiple choice questions due to the expanding class sizes and the time it takes to grade papers and exams. The larger classes also offer less interaction between students and instructors, which, in my opinion, yields an inferior learning experience.

While I am aggravated at the fact that it takes longer to find a parking spot and the lunch lines are frustrating to even observe, I am more worried about the effect of our cramped campus on learning and the forward momentum it carries.

Personally, the first week of class was exciting, but it was also frustrating. The lines at all the book stores were worse than I’ve ever seen. I ate veggie sushi twice because it was the only place without a huge line, and I can’t even schedule a meeting with one of my advisers because she has no time slots left.

I was one of three students who sat in a chair without a desk in my Spanish class in Bowman Hall. I contacted James Brown, an assistant dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, who personally put two more desks in the room the next day. He was very concerned with the problem; however, he couldn’t guarantee me that the desks would remain there.

This is the problem of increasing the student body at a university that has already passed capacity, at least in terms of comfort. I just don’t think it is fair to keep enrolling students to the point that there aren’t enough desks to sit in. It is hard to see my tuition and fees increase while my overall college experience diminishes.

I don’t want to detract from the smaller classes I enjoy or the great instructors here at Kent State. Most of my experience is positive, but I do see what I call the “Walmart effect,” where quality is replaced by quantity in the name of better bottom lines.

With all this, I understand many of the administration’s decisions and President Lefton’s need to balance the university’s budget. I give them a lot of credit for not cutting jobs, and I appreciate the extra work they do in raising scholarship funds.

Nonetheless, I still think more should be done to ensure both the convenience of our campus and the experience in our classrooms are progressing with student enrollment.