Campus News

Student boom presents new joys and challenges

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Bethel College enrollment has reached its highest level with more than 2,100 students enrolled this fall semester. It’s a welcome increase after a down year last year. “Last year was down compared to past years for no particular reason, but over the last 15 years there has been a steady increase in students so it’s no surprise this year was a big year,” said Randy Beachy, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment and Marketing. Since last year was smaller than normal, the increase in enrollment did surprise people. “[I] don’t know why the numbers are increasing, but Bethel is a good school,” said Jeanne Fox, registrar. “It’s important it still has grown because a lot of smaller Christian schools closed last year due to lack of enrollment.” In addition to last year’s decrease in numbers the school felt the economy might hurt enrollment. According to Randy Beachy, 30 percent of state aid was reduced this year, so the school transferred more money to financial aid packages. He said Bethel is thankful families stayed committed to the school even if they had to take out more loans or extra money. “Even though there was less aid [for students], the school is such a great Christian institution people will still come,” said Guy Fisher, director of Financial Aid. Once everyone enrolled it created some difficulty in the housing department. “The hardest part was people didn’t get first choice in housing. We want all of our students to be happy with housing,” said Kathy Gribbin, dean of students and residential life. Housing didn’t know how they were going to accommodate everyone. “When we passed out housing forms to returning students last spring, we had no idea we’d need to reopen Perimeter housing for women, let alone fill Shupe with 5-person suites and a good portion of Sailor with freshmen,” said Lindsey Weber, resident director of Shupe. The increased enrollment has also has created some disturbances when it comes to eating. “DC lines have been longer, especially at lunch,” said sophomore Nate Hickox. Senior Justin Graff agrees, “I get really hungry waiting in long lines.” Kathy Gribbin thinks eventually the lines will go smoother and won’t be as long. She said there are a lot of new student workers and they are just beginning to learn their jobs. In time they will discover a system and the lines will move more quickly. She also suggested going at odd times to beat the rush if you don’t want to wait in a long line. Another facility affected by the increase of students is Chapel. “Chapel is a lot fuller than before, said sophomore Katie Ratering. “ Freshmen are the ones who don’t skip or live off campus, so they take up many seats. If you get to chapel at five to 10, you can’t find a seat. Last year there were always empty seats.” It may be more crammed but some students think there is a benefit to having more students worshiping together. “I think there has been more energy,” said Hickox, who also plays in the Chapel Band, “The ER is packed and it gives it a big family feel.” “There are more people to meet and more praise to give God in Chapel and around campus,” said sophomore Amy Fishbein. Despite some of the problems that developed because of the increased enrollment Beachy feels the school has been blessed. “God has blessed us because we are focused on what we are about; which is to show students how to live a life of impact, and to impact the community from where the students are,” said Beachy.
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