By Siegrid Massie | LTVN Reporter/Anchor
Hospitality at Baylor has always been top-notch, and it has not escaped national notice. According to a recent report from U.S. News, Baylor is ranked No. 15 for best first-year experience and No. 34 for on-campus innovation. For years, the university has prided itself on its students’ experiences, which is why the recent strain on on-campus housing and parking has left many students dissatisfied and upset.
In fall 2019, total enrollment was at 18,033. Recently, Baylor announced that for the first time, enrollment topped 20,000 students with a total of 20,626. In those three years, while student population has risen, there have not been any new dorms or parking lots to accommodate the rapid increase in students.
Current students are already feeling the growing pains. An on-campus housing crisis has developed, resulting in the university renting out an entire hotel for over 100 freshmen to live in for at least the fall semester. This means an increase in the number of students who live off-campus, which has led to a heightened demand for student parking — but without any additional options to meet their needs. Driving down the side roads of campus during regular class hours has become a near-dangerous activity because of the number of students trying to find parking spots.
At this time, the university has not made any announcements to make accommodations for students who live or go to class on-campus. One of the largest on-campus housing options, Collins Residence Hall, will begin renovations in May 2022 and is not expected to be completed until May 2023. Memorial and Alexander Halls are expected to undergo a similar process the following year. It is unclear how the halls will be open to full occupancy during that time. If the halls are not able to house students, where does the university plan to find additional housing for 600, typically freshman, students?
At the end of the day, it has been the students who have paid the price for this rapid expansion. As a university, it is not feasible to continue to grow at this rate without properly expanding accommodations to meet the needs of the entire community. Today’s problems are housing and parking, but what will happen when it expands to include trouble with registration, class sizes and dining availability? Baylor has been a school with a great capacity for hospitality; it’s just a matter of making its current students a priority.