After UC Merced recently celebrated its first decade as a full-fledged university, there is a lot of anticipation of what the next 10 years will look like. Although there has been tremendous growth, the next decade will certainly have a lot of needs to fulfill to continue the acquisition of new student interest.
First off, with the student population rising by thousands each year, there are several growing issues concerning student housing and parking. The numbers just aren't matching anymore, with many students, even those who have purchased the required parking pass, unable to find parking during the peak hours of the day.
There is a very obvious need for additional parking spaces, so that the $270 pass doesn't seem like a waste, as many students are now choosing to ride the CatTracks bus line to avoid packed parking lots.
Student housing is very essential to the experience of many first-year students who have paid close to $9,000 to live in the campus dorms. As a freshman, I lived in the Mariposa dorm building, which consisted mainly of triple-rooms where three students shared a very tight space and six shared one bathroom.
That was four years ago, and even with new dorm buildings, the living situation has not gotten much better.
The need for space is growing along with student enrollment, and many students are choosing to live off campus to avoid paying for an uncomfortable room. At the very least, there should be enough space so that there will only be at maximum two to a room, because triples are -- in my opinion -- very inconvenient.
Classroom size is also becoming an issue as student enrollment grows rapidly. In 2009, I remember having a significantly large amount of space when attending lecture for certain courses. In fact, that's one of the reasons I was so pleased with my decision to finish my undergraduate schooling here in Merced.
The close-knit campus community was refreshing and the small classroom size provided the opportunity for students to interact with each other in a way that is almost impossible at larger universities.
Now it seems like if you don't arrive to class early, you may be out of luck with finding a decent seat. The discussion classes, however, have remained at a comfortable size. But if UC Merced plans to remain unique in comparison to the other University of California campuses, there will certainly be a need for additional classroom buildings in the near future.
Although UC Merced has come a very long way, there are several factors that will ensure that the university continues to take big steps forward. With student interest coming from all over the country, UC Merced must be able to accommodate an increasing number of freshmen each year.
With all that the school and its supporters were able to do in such a short period of time, the next few milestones will not be nearly as challenging as those that were reached in the past 10 years.
Alexis Footman is a senior at UC Merced and is majoring in psychology.