Students feel the impact of higher enrollment

The skywalks are flooded with students, feet shuffling through crowds, as people scan the edges for a place to settle down. Students sit on the floor along the hallways before classes. They huddle between library stacks in their downtime.


With enrollment at an all-time high, up 4 percent from last year, students have very few common spaces to settle in between classes. Moreover, places students have traditionally used as sitting space, are closed off for renovations, including certain floors of the library, the cafeteria and spaces in Thomas Hunter Hall.


Daniel Walker, a senior, finds the lack of space frustrating. “At times the school does feel overcrowded, especially at moments when I am in the library trying to find a seat and do work or when I am walking on the bridge,” said Walker. “It can be overwhelming at times.”


The door to the fifth-floor entrance to the library has been sanctioned off with yellow caution tape blocking its entrance since the start of the fall semester. The school has not given a specific reason for the renovations, though the facilities website lists the East Building as undergoing roof and façade replacements to fix water damage. The tape has started to droop down but the door remains locked.


Small signs have been posted to the walls on the fourth floor of the library apologizing for the noise from the upstairs construction, but also for the noise of the extra students who have been displaced from the library’s normally crowded fifth floor.


“All the maintenance and the services being fixed around the school has made it feel overcrowded,” said Khadisha Ahmed, a sophomore. “There’s no space for everyone to spread out.”


While the feeling of the school being overcrowded has become a major inconvenience for students, for CUNY it has become a point of pride. The university recently released a statement that its freshman enrollment has reached record highs, continuing a trend which has been a five years in the making.


The new west lobby cafe
Photo by Sonia Colon

CUNY itself has had a freshman enrollment increase of nearly 40,000 students across all senior colleges this past fall semester.


Huntercurrently has just under 17,000 undergraduate and 6,000 graduate students enrolled.

The buildings have roughly 2.35 million square feet of “academic” space for the 23,000 students who attend. This comes out to 100 gross square feet per student, meaning that according to the numbers, the school adheres to its capacity guidelines.


However, the experience of students seems to differ from that account perhaps because of the construction currently cutting students off from large parts of the school.


Matthew Carbonell, a senior, said he feels the crowding could potentially become a hazard at one point. “Well it is a commuter school, so I guess that can be understandable, but realistically it can be too much,” he said. “Like, if there was a fire, people are getting stepped on.”


Hunter officials say that they’re are working on providing more common spaces for students, especially from the renovation of Thomas Hunter Hall and a new Student Union there, as well as a new West Lobby café on the first floor that  provides 100 seats.


“When completed, it will provide a major new venue for students to spend time between classes, participate in extracurricular activities, and hang out with peers,” a spokesperson for the college said.

The cafeteria on the third floor of Hunter West was originally supposed to be opened in October, and was pushed back to November, yet has still not opened.


While the school is working on improving common spaces, some think the school still needs even more.


“If there is already not enough space, why would they purposely let more and more students in?” said Walker. “It just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.