Opinion | Chapman is too crowded and we’re not prepared for it

Mitali Shukla
Features Editor
@mitalishukla99

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, I find myself biking to my 11:30 a.m. “Sociology of Death” course only to arrive at the bike racks in front of Leatherby Libraries and Argyros Forum and realize there is no space for me to park said bike. Once I get to class, students trickle in for the next 20 or so minutes all with the same reason for their tardiness: “I couldn’t find parking.”

Every time I find myself starving between classes, I look inside Argyros Forum only to find the line for Einstein Bros. Bagels is almost out the door. That prompts me to speed-walk across campus to Beckman Hall, only to find the Starbucks line packed tightly with just as many people waiting for their food and drinks.

Our campus is getting too crowded.

Chapman submitted a proposal on Sept. 5 to the city of Orange that claimed their intention to increase enrollment to 10,500 students by the end of 2020. This request follows a 2015 proposal to increase enrollment to 11,650. Chapman’s current enrollment sits at 8,700 students.

An email from Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Harold Hewitt on Sept. 6 confirmed rumors that enrollment will be increasing.

“We have proposed an enrollment target of 10,500 – a modest increase over our current Orange campus enrollment cap of 8,700 students,” Hewitt said in his Sept. 6 email to the Chapman community.

After the overcrowding of on-campus housing and the controversy surrounding it, students and Orange residents alike started to wonder what the impact of the increasing numbers will have on the community.

This begs me to ask the question: can Chapman handle more students?

This expansion can be seen on our campus. The remodeling of DeMille Hall is just one part of this massive transformation. Additions like The K Residence Hall and the Keck Center for Science and Engineering buildings created a bit of a buzz due to the accelerated construction that was necessary to meet deadlines to be open for the fall semester. The Henley Hall Fitness Center was also created to provide more space for students to work out outside of the on-campus gym that I think could probably only handle 10 percent of campus at a time. Our campus is growing to fit more students, but are we ready for that?

Orange residents have demanded that on-campus housing should facilitate increased enrollment of Chapman students. Chapman-related noise complaints have been reported to have doubled from 2015 to 2017 and I can only imagine the increase since then.

My biggest concern regarding the overcrowding of campus is the kind of university that Chapman could become as a result. Much of the charm of our school and the local community is earned through the smaller campus and consequently, the smaller community. The bigger Chapman becomes, the easier it is for students to feel like a drop of water in the ocean. My hope is that with the expansion, the sense of community at Chapman and the environment of the smaller campus stays intact. Because that’s why a lot of us came here in the first place.