Staff Editorial

Each new freshman class is subject to curiosity and speculation, but this year’s incoming students may be more conspicuous than ever before. The current freshman class is incomparably larger than in recent years, and whether we view that inflow of new students as an advantage or a disadvantage, it has certainly been having an effect on our campus.
The administration had planned to increase student enrollment gradually – over the course of about four years. However, several unforeseeable factors led to an unexpectedly high yield rate among accepted students this year.
The admissions office received an unusually large pool of applicants, but after communicating with other colleges, found that other schools had also received many more applications than usual. It was therefore unlikely that Lawrence had simply become much more popular all of a sudden. Rather, it seemed that students were applying to more schools overall.
However, it appears that Lawrence’s popularity has in fact risen. This year, the university arrived at the target enrollment number of 1,400 that Admissions thought we would not reach for another four years. Of course, we were not equipped to support such a large student body this year, and had to make some last-minute adjustments. Everyone is a little cramped for space and attention.
We at The Lawrentian are dismayed by the prospect of increased class sizes and longer waiting lists. The fact that the administration had to scramble at the last minute to staff additional class sections and to deal with a higher demand on dining and housing services is cause for apprehension. But in light of the unforeseeable factors that the admissions office dealt with, they have made the right decisions. The only way they could have avoided such an influx of students would be if they had not intended to increase enrollment at all. While it is a shame that there was such a large increase this year, we support the decision to increase enrollment in the long run.
According to Dean of Admissions Steven Syverson, the decision was made in order to reinstate a more “traditional balance” between the college and the conservatory. In the ’90s, Lawrence decided to increase enrollment within the conservatory so that we would not need to bring in guests and community members in order to fill ensembles. Since then, our ratio of music majors to non-music majors has been much higher. To the prospective student, Lawrence has often appeared to be mainly a music school. What admissions wanted to do was expand other departments, so that they, too, could reach a more developed level.
Making students with a wide variety of interests feel at home here is both admirable and judicious. The combination of college and conservatory is by nature a grand scheme, and Lawrence keeps it about as small and personalized as can be. But a little expansion in other departments, to balance out the domination of the music conservatory at this small college, is more than welcome. Students of art, geology, and anthropology deserve just as many opportunities as students of music. While it is healthy to have one or two signature programs, the students and faculty of every department are important to the intellectual environment. Surely the art department will never be as large as the conservatory, but with a little development, it and many other departments could add even more to our campus life than they do already. If that means tolerating a year of larger class sizes and longer waiting lists, it is all for the best.

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