August 10, 2003

Freshmen Face Lounge-ing Around

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Cornell’s incoming freshman class, set to hit campus next week, will be 202 students larger than the 3,000 student mark admissions officers annually aim for. And, while Campus Life has been working to meet incoming students’ housing requests, this level of over-enrollment has “caused some stress on campus housing,” according to Kent Hubbell ’69, dean of students.

This is not the first housing crunch Cornell has seen in recent years: three years ago, over-enrolled students were forced to live in doubles converted into triples and in lounges containing up to five people. That year, students did not begin to move out of the temporary housing units until the beginning of October, according to a report published in The Sun.

Pam Zinder ’82, manager of housing alternatives, insists that this year’s housing difficulties are not as severe as those three years ago. “We have housed all the freshman that need housing without using the lounges,” Zinder told The Sun.

While residential life has been able to house every freshman without resorting to using lounge space, they have had to convert large doubles into triples. Some students still expressed concern about the number of freshman that will be on North Campus this semester. “With the North Campus Initiative, there are already a ton of kids on North Campus, adding 200 more to the mix seems absurd,” said Britney Dann ’05.

According to Hubbell, both over-enrollment and under-enrollment are problems inherent to the probabilistic admissions process. Yearly, Cornell’s enrollment numbers oscillate around 3,000 students. Although an upward spike in enrollment seems to suggest a decrease in Cornell’s admissions standards, Hubbell made it clear that in terms of the quality of applicants, “this incoming class is every bit as strong as last year’s.”

The addition of 200 students does also not necessarily imply a decrease in Cornell’s ability to educate its students, Hubbell said. On the contrary, administrators for the most part did not seem too concerned of the over-enrollment. “While it stretches our housing, 200 students are not going to make a material difference in our teaching because the students will generally not be concentrated in any one department,” Hubbell said.

The over-enrollment will only actually amount to a six percent increase in the size of the freshman class. “The increase in class size is not a big deal. Classes are already huge, one more student in the back of a few classes will not make a difference,” Dann said.

Archived article by Matthew Vernon