As you read this, there are around 3,500 living, breathing students who are chomping at the bit to get to Drexel — all members of next year’s prospective freshman class.
Our University’s new admissions strategy is working. They’re ambitious. They can’t wait!
While 3,500 students have submitted enrollment deposits, the number of kids on campus in the fall may be a little lower at 3,100. Even so, the unexpectedly large number (the University’s target was 2,400 students) has thrown a wrench into previous freshman housing plans.
The University had announced March 17 would be vacant the 2017-2018 year in preparation for its demolition in the summer of 2018, after which it would become student green space. However, on June 7, Drexel University’s Department of Campus Services announced that Myers Hall would remain open to house select College Learning Communities.
In previous years, when Drexel has had incoming classes of 3,000 or more, it’s also had to make some tricky housing calls, occasionally tripling dorms like Towers Hall and turning common spaces in Kelly Hall into makeshift dorm rooms.
With Calhoun Hall under renovation (as it has been since 2014), the University is down about 140 freshman living spaces. It’s since pushed freshman housing into certain floors of North Hall, formerly not open to them.
The University is currently putting together a plan to house the incoming freshmen, expected to be finalized in late June, and we’re sure it’ll get neatly resolved — but the question of space for freshmen has brought another to our minds.
In recent years, the University’s jumped on every opportunity it could to lease space out to third parties, rather than use it for academic purposes. We’ve seen this with the construction of Chestnut Square and the respective shops along Chestnut Street, the replacement of Hess Labs with the Summit, the replacement of the Intercultural Center with the Study, and most recently, the erection of Vue32, being built to house Drexel faculty and graduate students.
It’s important to note that all of these buildings have been paid for by outside entities; it’s not like the University is choosing to use its money to build hotels, residences, and shops instead of academic spaces.
But it is making the choice to lease its land to these third parties rather than reinvesting in its academic spaces.
If you’re even remotely involved in Drexel’s academic community here, you’d have a hard time denying that, of all the things we fall short on, space is number one.
For starters, our lone library, the beloved W.W. Hag, can only hold one-third of our student body’s population. Adjunct professors have trouble procuring space to meet with their students because there is no designated office space for them. When quarters are in full swing, classrooms are almost always in use and filled to capacity. Student organizations and clubs struggle to find spaces they can rent for events.
When we’ve had high numbers of freshmen in the past, we could always count on a high number of dropouts, too. But if numbers continue to increase and more students are going to be staying their full term on campus, from enrollment to graduation, we will almost certainly need more space.
For housing. For classes. For professors. For administrators. For students.
In the last few years, Drexel has been evaluating its on-campus space more like a business than a university. So we feel the need to ask — when will it resume investing our academic community?