Growing Pains Ahead at CI

By Tasha Wisniewski

*Published in the print edition of The CI View in Sept. 2011

Dolphin endangerment need not be feared in the near future. At least not as far as enrollment at CSU Channel Islands goes. If the scarcity of parking spots at the open of the Fall 2011 semester is any indication, CI is overflowing with flippers. A news release published August 3 states that CSU Channel Islands “expects to admit more than 400 transfer applicants for the Spring term, despite budget cuts.” The release goes on to state that CI accepted 1,500 students this fall semester and that faculty appears quite excited at the growth. In a time of economic struggles especially amongst universities in California, this should only be seen as a positive. Unfortunately, there are a few road blocks that CI students are experiencing.

As I follow the yellow lights of a police escort in search for a parking spot on Channel Islands Drive, already ten minutes late for class, I wonder if current students are at all excited about all the new additions. I see construction signs and idling automobiles every where I look. While our parking situation may seem horrendous, we are spoiled compared to what other universities have to deal with regarding parking. Despite the current parking limitations, with one of the smallest California State University school populations, Dolphins are at an advantage.

At Ventura Community College, enrollment is up to 14,500, dwarfing CI’s cozy population of nearly 4,000. Christian Padilla, a 21 year-old student at VC and future Dolphin, is happy with her expanding campus, “There are so many people to meet, the opportunities are refreshing. So what if I have to walk a block or two to class? I get an education in exchange for a little sweat.” Perhaps we have become just a tad spoiled by small class sizes and a relatively short walk to class. Michael Berman, Chief Information Officer at CI assures me that, “We’ve begun the process to build 300 more spaces next to the new entrance road.” Students are also encouraged to utilize alternate modes of transportation such as carpooling, the new Zipcar service, and The Vista bus.

Another concern many students have is that they worry that the traffic in the parking lots will mirror the classroom. Accepting more students means fuller classes, perhaps less individuality. One of the main reasons I decided to continue my education at CI is because of the small class size and the willingness of professors to be accessible. This is truly one of the things that makes our university special. Berman assures me that “class size is pretty much limited by classroom size, so I don’t see class rosters getting bigger in the short term.” He also goes on to say “As we grow, we are going to make sure that we keep our classes small enough so that students will be able to benefit from direct contact with our highly talented and committed faculty.” With this reassurance, I feel at ease, and students should not stress about campus growth. While there may be difficulty and road work ahead in the transition, inevitably growth will be a good thing.

Ultimately, more students for CI means more opportunities. In the words of Berman, “More students mean a more vibrant campus, more academic options, new buildings and more activities.” No matter how tight the parking gets Berman emphasizes, “Channel Islands is committed to maintaining the highly personal style that has been the hallmark of the CI way.” So while this Dolphin may find the parking a little challenging, I am certainly supportive of sacrifices that need to be made in order to make education possible for future students.