The numbers from a new study released Wednesday have me scratching my head and wondering just how hard I’ll need to study for the upcoming GRE. Not just the math portion, but the reasoning, too.
To put it simply, nothing adds up.
According to the study released by the Oregon University System, Portland State is the only state college currently experiencing an increase in enrollment. From 2002 to 2003, enrollment saw no change at the University of Oregon, and Oregon State saw only a slight increase in its student population (its branch in Bend actually saw a decrease in enrollment).
Portland State, on the other hand, has seen a 33 percent enrollment increase over the past five years, leaving us with more than 3,000 students than that school in Eugene (you know, the one whose alumni paste those tacky golden “O’s” to the sides of their SUVs).
If this were a GRE question, I would reason that athletics play little to no role in a prospective student’s college decision-making process, unless, of course, that student is an athlete. I would also reason that Portland is a great place to live because it has buildings that are more than two stories tall.
I would reason that city folk can throw damn good farmer’s markets (even if most of the vendors are from the Willamette Valley), and that people are finally reading all those statistics about the wonders of our University Studies program.
Finally, I would reason that Portland State is offering its students something other state schools cannot: a college education at a fast-paced, high-tech urban campus.
Now, guess what? I’m not going to grad school because I just failed the GRE. OK, not failed. I got the parts about athletics and big buildings and produce and Capstones right.
But the part about a high-tech campus? Wrong, wrong, wrong.
The good news is Portland State officials are aware of this. In an interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting on Wednesday, PSU Vice President Jay Kenton called our need for facilities “significant.” Kenton said: “We did a survey last year and found that we need 700 to 900 student housing units today. We need another 1,500 over the next 10 years.”
But that’s just living space. What about computer terminals and gym lockers and library desks and parking spaces for all those new students?
In the OPB interview, Kenton said PSU is now offering classes seven days a week to make good use of classroom space, and that he’s heard talk of a “graveyard shift” of classes running from midnight to 6 a.m. (I said “talk”).
But nowhere (and granted, I say this without knowing what questions were asked, or what quotes were emitted for space, etc.), nowhere, was concern expressed over the fact that Portland State can’t support its current student population. Forget about what we’re going to need 10 years from now, what about what we need right now:
(Please fill in the blanks below and mail them to your least favorite campus official.)
My school spirit is overshadowed by my fear that PSU will fall behind just as quickly as it jumped ahead. That is, unless we do something about it.
I’ve already demonstrated my no-so-keen reasoning skills, but humor me for a minute longer:
If this were a GRE question, I would further reason that Portland State’s enrollment has surpassed that of Oregon and Oregon State because, more than the poor economy affecting the number of people who can afford to go to college, the poor economy has affected the number of students who can afford to go away to college.
I would also reason that Portland State could take advantage of this situation by offering the best classes and facilities available during this rough economic time. If (and only if) it was able to do this, I would reason that more students would be satisfied (or heck, why not thrilled?) with their PSU education, and thus would be more likely to finish their degrees at PSU, join the alumni association, take jobs with their Capstone business partners and build the kind of community Kenton is expecting to serve 10 years from now.
Finally, I would reason those same alumni would buy up car-door-sized Viking stickers like sweat socks at a Blue Light special. But that might be wishful thinking.