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Suggestions for the College before enrolling more students

No one was surprised when it was announced that the College planned to increase enrollment. They had already started the process before the announcement, with the Classes of 2025 and 2026 each being significantly larger than the classes that came before them.

This move has dissatisfied students for many reasons, including the fact that many students chose this college for its small size. Further, the College’s infrastructure as it stands cannot accommodate a significant increase in the number of new students. 

The following is a list of what the College could change before following through with its announcement. 

  1. More dining halls: The dining hall situation on campus has been a mess this school year. They have been overcrowded, especially at peak times like 12:15 p.m., when many students get out of class and have a brief window of time to eat before their next class.

Jillian Dowling `24 has noticed the crowds in the dining halls, which have caused many issues.

“It’s tough when you’re trying to have lunch with someone and you can’t find anywhere to sit. Also, if you’re trying to eat quickly, there can be really long lines, and you run out of time,” she said.

She pointed out that these issues began when the College started its push to increase enrollment.

“I’ve noticed it’s been way more crowded this semester than it has been my entire time at Colby. With the crowds as they are right now, I don’t know what’s going to happen with more students,” Dowling said.

The College has stated this is an issue they are working on. An email from President David A. Greene on Nov. 4, 2021 stated, “Phase three will be the largest undertaking—the design and construction of a new residential and dining quadrangle on the current site of the Roberts parking lot.”

However, this new dining hall will not open until 2025, when the current first-years are seniors and everyone else has graduated. While this should make student life better in the future, it does nothing to help with the overcrowding that the College is facing now. 

  1. Better quality food: There have been issues with the College’s dining hall food. From undercooked meat to moldy cheese on pizza, eating in dining halls is always an adventure.

Nanne Nicholas `23, a regular at Dana breakfast, has noticed an unfortunate new trend: frozen fruit. 

“It sucks when I’m trying to have fruit, and all of it is frozen. It hurts my teeth,” she said. 

While this is bad in its own right, the wavering quality of food adds to more overcrowding. If everyone avoids the moldy pizza, they will flock to a different food station, causing long lines and more issues.

  1. More tables and chairs: This may seem obvious, given the last points, but the lack of tables and chairs causes plenty of issues on its own. Once students get through the monster lines and have a plate of food, there is nowhere to sit. Even if there is a spot at a table, there is rarely a chair to go with it. This causes chaos and claustrophobia in the dining halls, as people are constantly clogging the areas between tables, looking for somewhere to sit.

“If you want a chair at any given dining hall at 12:25, forget it,” Dowling said.

  1. More dorms: There are simply not enough dorms to accommodate the number of students living on this campus. Kaitlyn Hurley `25 was living in a forced triple as a sophomore until she could move into the Johnson Pond House 3. Even now, there are still sophomores living in forced triples. 

The College has made strides to fix this issue, like the construction of the Johnson Pond houses, but just like with the dining halls, they are fighting an issue as it is happening, instead of getting in front of it. No new dorms are being built at the moment, even though they are needed before the Class of 2027 arrives. 

  1. More classes: Everyone at the College is here to learn. To do that, they need classes. However, with the growing population, students have found it challenging to get into the classes they need.

This impacts people in two ways. The first is through getting classes for their majors. All majors have specific classes required to graduate. Some, like psychology, have specific classes that students need to take in a certain year. Whether a student gets into a class can make or break their ability to go abroad or graduate within four years.

An anonymous Junior told The Colby Echo, “I tried to get into a seminar that I need for my major, and I didn’t get it, but I know some first-years who did. As a Junior, I think I should have gotten into something needed to graduate over first-years”

The other issue with the lack of classes is that students cannot get into classes without majoring or minoring in the department, which makes distribution requirements challenging to fulfill. Not only is this annoying to students, but it limits their opportunities to explore new things, which is supposed to be a benefit of a liberal arts college.

Ashly Nyman `25 has been struggling to get into classes. 

“I haven’t been able to fill all of my distribution requirements because I haven’t been able to get into some classes,” she said, “I know of many other people who have had the same problem. While I do recognize that classes for your major are most important, the whole purpose of a liberal arts education is to explore different facets. That is why we have distribution requirements. However, if you don’t get into the classes you are interested in, you won’t ever know if you have a passion for them. If you don’t get to explore different subjects early in college you won’t have the ability to pursue it. I won’t be able to take a natural science lab course until my senior year. I wanted to take biology this past semester but I didn’t get in. Maybe I would have liked to take more classes in bio, but I’ll never know.”

  1. More professors: Adding more classes requires adding more professors. There are only so many classes the current professors can teach, so new professors need to be hired for the College to truly expand the number of courses.
  2. More classrooms: Can you see the trend? Just like there are not enough dorms to fit all the students on campus, there are not enough classrooms to accommodate the students.

Aubrey Adkins `25 is currently in an English class where the room is too small for the number of students.

“In my English class, the room Colby put us in doesn’t have enough regular chairs to fit all of us — some students are stuck in plastic folding chairs, and it’s pretty impossible to move around the room,” she said.

  1. More counselors: Currently, there are not enough counselors to help the student population. Most people can relate to trying to set up a meeting with a counselor and being told that the next available appointment is two weeks away. The College is a stressful environment, and many people need help from professionals. However, having to wait two weeks to meet with someone just makes problems worse.
  2. More health center staff: Just like it is impossible to get meetings with Colby Counselors, it is also very challenging to get health center appointments. Not only is sickness an immediate issue – not something you can make an appointment for a week in advance – but the College no longer has a doctor on staff. Last year there was, but this year the College changed its staffing so local doctors come in. Because of this, it is harder to meet with doctors and students will not consistently have the same one. It all depends on who is coming in that day.

Similarly, the College’s psychiatrist only comes in once a month. This means that if students need to get a prescription changed or refilled, they may need to wait up to a month unless they find a different psychiatrist in Waterville.

  1. More parking: Most sophomores are parking on a field. When it is muddy, cars have gotten stuck in the mud and needed to call a tow truck to get out. David Greene may have discussed building a parking garage, which would be great, but also, like the dorms and dining halls, does nothing to help the current problem. 

Joe Grassi `25 has faced several challenges while parking on Runnals Field.

“The parking situation this year has been quite terrible. Clearly the College is not prepared for the number of students that want to be able to have cars on campus. Since the campus is detached from all of downtown Waterville, it makes sense that many students would want to have a car on campus because of the opportunities that having a car allows. The College’s inability to accommodate these cars, forcing many students to either park off campus or in a disastrous mud pit most of the year, is quite a large failure,” he said.

“I do appreciate the efforts of the administration to try to accommodate everyone, but I hope that they will work hard to find more solutions, as well as being understanding that students sometimes must park their cars on campus or in different lots, say if they have a small two-wheel drive car that cannot navigate on a snowy, icy, or muddy field,” he said.

  1. More washers and dryers: More students means more people using the washers and dryers. All the frat row dorms now have multiple adapted spaces, which means they house more students than they ever have before. However, they all only have one washer and one dryer, causing backups and issues.

Kate Kasoff `25 lives in Dana, Colby’s biggest residence hall, and frequently faces issues when it comes to doing laundry.

“Dana only has five washers, and half the time, one or two are broken. It’s always a fight just to get a washer, even during random times, like the middle of the day, when I thought it would be empty. Plus, laundry view doesn’t work, so I never know if a washer is going to be open or not when I have to do laundry,” Kassoff said.

The above list only covers some of what needs to be fixed before the College can truly increase enrollment like it wants to. 


~ Mairead Levitt `25

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