Staff Editorial

Students generally find Lawrence’s small campus cozy and convenient – it’s possible to walk anywhere in under ten minutes and alternate transportation is not necessary. However, of late, it seems that the campus has become too small; a space crunch in dining, conservatory and housing facilities must be addressed in order to uphold the quality level of education at Lawrence.
Lawrence has recently been admitting larger and larger freshman classes. The benefits of this are clear: More students equals more tuition money coming in and greater possibilities for the university’s growth as an institution. Last year’s freshman class was the largest in recent memory, and classes had been steadily growing in numbers up to that point.
This year, the admissions office is planning to enroll slightly fewer freshmen, about 375 compared to last year’s 401. However, 26 fewer freshmen is not a very big difference compared to the number of graduating seniors – the Lawrence population will still grow overall. Slowly increasing Lawrence’s student population is a positive thing, as long as the university is willing to make space for everyone.
Crowding is becoming an issue in dining halls, particularly at peak times such as after freshman studies. Food often runs out, lines are incredibly long, and the dining atmosphere becomes stressful and noisy. The new campus center is slated to alleviate many of these problems, but it will not be completed for many years. In the meantime, all students would benefit from an evaluation of and temporary solution to the crowding problems at mealtimes.
Another place where space is a major issue is in the conservatory. Practice rooms have always been at a premium, but this year this is especially true. Many former practice rooms have been converted into offices for Lawrence fellows and conservatory faculty. All of these people are vital to the quality of the university and they deserve office space, however, the rooms are much too small for comfortable offices and students playing instruments next door do not make for an ideal work environment. If conservatory admissions continue to rise and new faculty and staff continue to be hired to meet the needs of the university, the administration will have to consider adding more space in the conservatory to compensate.
Finally, quality housing at Lawrence is also at a premium. The university guarantees housing to students and in fact requires students to live on campus for four years. There is currently enough housing for all students; however, as freshman classes become larger, options are reduced for others, particularly sophomores who must pick last in the general lottery. Several campus dorms are in need of renovation and many students are left with few options regarding where they will live for a year. The university must also consider these issues when allocating funds and admitting students.
Obviously, tough decisions must be made about how and when to fund such projects. However, crowding is becoming a bigger and bigger issue at Lawrence and something needs to be done about it, even if the first step is simply recognizing the problem. In future years, a careful balance will have to be maintained to ensure that the number of admitted freshmen balances the monetary and spatial needs of the university.