Editor’s Note: The Editorial Board of the Cento is composed of members of the staff and does not reflect the opinions of any one individual on the staff. The Editorial Board represents the voice of the Cento.
In an attempt to define the future direction of the College, the Strategic Plan is published every few years by the administration. Past versions of the Strategic Plan have detailed building expansion and renovation, commitment to further study abroad programs, and ideas to advance the technological face of Centre.
The most recent version of the Strategic Plan includes provisions explaining the college’s expansion goals up to the year 2016. The main focus of this development plan is based on increasing the number of students on Centre’s campus.
This year’s population at Centre is at approximately 1,375, including a record-setting first-year class of 378.
The Strategic Plan outlines an extreme growth from the current 1,375 to 1,425 students by 2016.
In the official media release that was published in Spring 2013, these goals all seem attainable and easily achieved. Yet, how much reasonable logic and strategy actually went into the ideas proposed in this plan?
Have the distinguished authors of the Strategic Plan actually been to Centre’s campus? Have they ever stood in line in Cowan during Common Hour with their stomachs hopelessly grumbling just dreaming of their long-awaited chance at the sandwich line? Have they ever made endless loops around the library during Finals Week desperately wishing that a seat, any seat, would open up? Have they ever actually set foot in, much less lived in, Old Quad? If the distinguished authors had experienced any of these frustrations on at least a semiregular basis, they might think twice about the best “strategy” for the future of the campus.
With any reasonable development design such as this, envisioning the final goal is important, but accomplishing the intermediate steps necessary to the final goal is vital.
To accommodate an additional 100 students on campus, Centre must first prepare appropriate residential space, dining space, and living space. At this point, none of these requirements are adequately met. Despite valiant efforts by the staff who manage these spaces, none of their facilities are prepared to handle an additional flood of students.
Finding residential space on campus is, and has always been, a difficult task. The number of students always seems to grow faster than the number of available dorm rooms. Upperclassmen are often left at the end of the year with no idea where they will live in the next school year, because no place yet exists. Centre is thus forced to acquire a new building halfway through the summer and rush to renovate the space in time, neglecting other buildings in serious need of a facelift, such as the entire Old Quad.
Residential space is not the only area of campus that suffers from a crushing claustrophobia. It seems that the Campus Center, and in particular Cowan, was beyond capacity before the building was even finished. When there is only so much space and so many servers, there is not much the Cowan staff can do to alleviate long lines and crowded tables in the always too-small space.
Students can’t even escape the feeling outside of residential and dining spaces. Despite new renovations to the library over the summer, students still find themselves unable to find a quiet, unoccupied place to study. Parking is in short supply and even administrators are realizing that they lack the offices to house their employees.
The lack of available spaces does not necessarily mean that an expansion should not happen. In fact, an expansion overall would add welcomed diversity to the campus and give more students a chance at the Centre experience.
The Editorial Board welcomes the growth of the campus as a necessary factor in moving forward as a college. However, the Board strongly encourages that the administration and all those tasked with enacting the Strategic Plan take a moment to consider and address the aforementioned problems before leaping blindly.
Before we can get bigger, we must make our spaces better.
After all, to follow true Centre tradition, if we are going to do something, we might as well do it right and do it well.