North Texas Daily

Increased enrollment brings changes to transportation, campus life

Increased enrollment brings changes to transportation, campus life

Increased enrollment brings changes to transportation, campus life
October 01
10:00 2022

Overall enrollment at the university has increased 5.6 percent compared to the previous fall semester, with the most notable increases occurring with freshman, graduate students and new degree holders.

This marks the fourth consecutive year of growth in the freshman class. The growth has caused additional changes on campus, especially with transportation, according to Margarita Venegas, a communications director within the university’s Division of Finance and Administration.

“We’re at 365 fewer permits sold this year than last year,” Venegas said.

Lower sales of parking permits were interesting to Venegas who said students appear to be walking and using public transportation instead of driving. Venegas said the statistics aren’t immediately available yet but there appears to be a trend.

An aspect of student transportation Venegas focused on was biking, which she said the school is also focusing on.

“We’ve always tried to encourage our students to be bike-friendly,” Venegas said. “Right now, we’ve got our mobile bike shop to ensure that students use their bikes and get them regularly repaired and attended to.”

The mobile bike shop is one of the latest innovations in student transportation at the university. The shop offers to repair students’ bikes free of charge and moves around campus regularly to allow more accessibility. The service started in September and has repaired bikes for over 300 students thus far, according to Venegas.

Since 2018, the university maintains a partnership with Lyft to offer free on-campus transportation to students between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. The program gives students a code they can use in the Lyft app to get a ride on campus. The program fulfills an on-campus transportation gap Venegas said the university has been concerned with. The program covers student rides that start and end on campus.

According to Venegas, additional transportation changes at the university include the availability of parking lots on campus.

“Two changes not in our control were the loss of some parking lot spaces,” Venegas said. “We lost the parking lot that was at College Inn, and we lost some spaces in the Eagle commuter Lot 55 due to the construction of the Art annex.”

Transportation is not the only aspect on campus that has changed. History professor Walter Roberts spoke about some of the differences he has noticed this year.

“I did teach a face-to-face section last spring and noticed some negative changes in terms of class attendance and overall student engagement in the material compared to the pre-COVID times,” Roberts said.

Roberts also said the introductory history course he teaches has been moved online for the past five years, another change he said has key disadvantages.

“One of the disadvantages to this format is I don’t get a feel for the students as individuals or really even a sense of ‘personality’ for each cohort,” Roberts said.

The student population has been growing steadily at the university for nearly a decade. The current population of both undergraduate and graduate students is now 44,532 students, according to a university press release. In addition, there was a 17.1 percent increase in doctoral degrees awarded, equating to 315 degrees.

The growth in student population has been a subject of interest for students, who say the increasing student population is changing the university. Ecology senior Marin Clarke said she has noticed some small changes in her classes.

“With testing, the test format has changed,” Clarke said. “Now it’s more multiple-choice because it’s easier to grade and takes less time, but it doesn’t allow you to prove what you know as well as short answers do.”

Outside the classroom, the enrollment increase has exacerbated the strain on on-campus housing, which is now above 100 percent capacity. In a previous interview with the North Texas Daily, Housing Director James Fairchild said this year’s class size surpassed the university’s predictions.

Approximately 800 upperclassmen were denied housing for the fall 2022 semester following the “fairly unprecedented” enrollment increase. The university has placed around 110 freshmen in temporary living situations which include rooming with housing employees (resident assistants and facility assistants) and staying in hotels.

The university currently does not have immediate plans to build new on-campus housing.

Featured Image: The UNT letters stand outside of the Welcome Center on Sept. 25, 2022. Photo by Matt Iaia

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John Eberhart

John Eberhart

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