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As enrollment numbers rise, so does concern among students

As Ohio University enters its fifth week of classes for the 2023 fall semester, the brick roads seem as bustling as ever. Several new bobcats roam the campus, and for the second year in a row, OU reaches record enrollment numbers of first-year students, according to a previous Post report. 

OU broke the enrollment record numbers last year as well, with a total of 4,441 first-year students. This year that number has risen to a total of 4,516 students in the graduating class of 2027, according to a university news release.

As OU continues admitting more students each year, certain Bobcats feel that certain amenities such as the dining halls and Ping Recreation Center, have become overcrowded. 

Friends Celia Hawk and Julia Sheppard, sophomores studying environmental studies, find the overcrowding in the dining halls to be a serious issue. 

“There have been a few times where I’ve gone to get food at the dining hall, and I have to go eat on Court Street because my class starts in 30 minutes,” said Hawk. “There are also times where me and my friends have had to leave the dining hall because we were trying to find chairs and there was nowhere to sit, so we just had to waste a meal swipe.”

Even the times that Hawk and Sheppard find a seat in the dining halls, it isn’t always ideal. 

“We went to the dining hall just the other day… we ended up finding seating at one of the long tables in Boyd, and there were people on both sides of us,” said Sheppard. “It wasn’t a table to ourselves, which you make do, but it’s still really tight.”

Besides the dining hall, students also are experiencing overcrowding at the one gym OU offers its thousands of students. Elise O’Donnell, a sophomore on the rowing team studying marine biology, finds it hard to make time to go to the gym with how busy it is. 

“In terms of rowing, it has been so hard to find times to go to the gym where it's not going to be packed,” said O’Donnell. “And if you ever want to lift or do anything with the machines, you’re waiting forever. I used to go to the gym for 45 minutes but now it's an hour and a half, and more than half of it is usually waiting.”

Due to the university’s increase in admissions, students also are facing difficulties with housing. Rooms that were built the size of housing two people have been turned into triples as the university tries to fit its new students on campus. 

“I know some people who live on West Green, and they’re all in doubles that were turned into triples,” said Sheppard. 

In order to combat these issues, some students feel as though the university needs to expand its amenities to accommodate its growing population. Other students believe OU needs to change its admissions strategy altogether. 

“I think they either need to change their admissions plan, meaning that they need to stop admitting as many students as they are because it’s not going to work,” said O’Donnell. “Or they need to rebuild most of the dorms on South Green and then make more dorms.”

As that number continues to grow with each new incoming class, the question is raised of how OU will keep up with its rising numbers.

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