Chapman has faced some criticism from students and community group Respect Orange after an article spread rumors of a plan to increase its student population by 1,800 in the next decade – though Mike Pelly, Chapman’s vice chancellor for enrollment management, denied the rumors.
He confirmed that Chapman has a system in place to help it control how many students it admits. Last spring, however, the number of students who enrolled did not match Chapman’s prediction, which led to this school year’s largest freshman class, with 1,696 students.
“We project that, on average, 20 to 25 percent of admitted students enroll,” Pelly said. “If (the admissions team) accepts 7,000 students and (our prediction) is off by 1 percent, an additional 70 (will consequently be admitted). Last May, we were off by 1.2 percent.”
Respect Orange believes that the location of Chapman’s campus has produced extra noise, as well as traffic and parking issues, according to its website, and that growth in student population would worsen these conflicts.
Some students also feel that the possibility of a larger student-to-teacher ratio would be detrimental to their education.
“I’m nervous that academic advisers and professors will not have as much time to meet one-on-one as they do now,” said Zoey Pittler, a freshman integrated educational studies major. “I feel like they will not be able to have personal relationships or be as invested in their students.”
But the admissions office plans to enroll 1,650 freshmen for next year, and for each freshman class to grow about 2 percent each year after. Pelly confirmed that the admissions team has a strategic plan for a five-year model that shows little to no growth at Chapman’s Orange campus. The plan includes expanding Chapman’s Rinker campus in Irvine so it can absorb some of Chapman’s current graduate students, which could then decrease the number of people at Chapman’s Orange campus.
This will hopefully appease residents, Pelly said, who feel that Chapman’s student community has already intruded on the Old Towne Historic District – an issue outlined on the Respect Orange website.
The members of Respect Orange, founded in 2015, feel that the current population of Orange is small enough to maintain its culture, but that it cannot hold any more occupants without damaging its heritage.
“If the proper infrastructure existed and proper planning occurred, then the issues of student behavior, traffic, noise, overpopulation and parking issues would not even be a discussion topic,” said Adam Duberstein, the founder of Respect Orange.
Sandy Quinn, the president of the Old Towne Preservation Association (OTPA), said that if there were to be a substantial increase in student enrollment, it would create a community-wide problem. Quinn hopes the university will call for input from the residents who try to maintain the historic district’s wellbeing. He and the members of the OTPA fear any potential increase in student enrollment.
“Residents have already voiced their concerns about increased enrollment, lack of adequate parking, need for more on-campus student housing, student conduct, infrastructure impact and other issues that have been around for decades,” Quinn said.
But not all residents are upset by the university’s growth.
Kaye Gittleman is an Orange resident who has been living next to Chapman for about 30 years and, aside from some students’ occasional reckless driving, said that she enjoys the campus and its students.
“Most of the people in the community hate Chapman, but I’m not one of them,” Gittleman said. “(Chapman) is really a benefit to the neighborhood. I’m always over there at events (they host for community involvement); without the students these opportunities wouldn’t be there (for me to enjoy).”
Starting in fall 2019, all underclassmen will be required to live on campus for two years, from the beginning of freshman year to the end of sophomore year. This, along with Chapman’s purchase of the Chapman Grand apartments in Anaheim, means that fewer Chapman students will rent houses next to local families in Orange.
“(Purchasing Chapman Grand) is the most important thing we’ve done recently,” Pelly said. “We are creating a better environment (for Chapman’s neighbors), and the students can still get the feeling of living off campus, but in the safety of a Chapman-managed facility.”
Jasmin Sani contributed to this report.