Texas Wesleyan University’s student body has continued its increase with an addition of not only traditional freshmen, but approximately 92 international students. Wesleyan will be receiving even more international students over Christmas break for Spring 2013.
The problem is where exactly will the new students live, and if Wesleyan will be able to accommodate their needs, all the while attempting to keep current students happy.
Joe Brown, dean of freshman success, said Wesleyan may not be able to accommodate every incoming student with housing who may be interested in living on campus.
“There is a rumor going around that the mass communication and the Rambler office, will be converted into housing rooms. As best I know as an old time faculty, at this point there is simply no place they can move us or the Rambler without alternative buildings. Maybe down the road our space could become housing, but right now this wing will probably remain here.”
Brown said he believes the amount of students Wesleyan has received thus far has had a good effect on campus life; more students are attending events on campus.
“When you have more residential population, you have more energy in the cafeteria, more students coming to events,” Brown said. “Right now our international students that are here want to experience the American way.”
Brown said the international students are discovering our [American] traditions just as we [Americans] are discovering their traditions.
Sharon Manson, housing director, said Wesleyan could possibly add 200 more international students not including the possibility of 50 ESL students.
“We are getting numbers [international students] from international programs but their numbers, and the number of students that have actually committed and applied are very different,” Manson said.
Manson said the actual number of students that have applied for housing so far are very few.
“You have to plan for the worst and hope for the best,” Manson said.
Manson said the housing department has already started making more room by moving out what used to be storage rooms on the second floor of OC Hall. They were used by student organizations, the provost office and the Student Government Association’s president’s office.
“We are going to clean all of those rooms out and we are going to put beds in there,” Manson said.
Manson said the housing department has spoken with the student organizations about taking those rooms.
“We know that those rooms are very important to student organizations. They have their ritual stuff, and their organization things in there,” Manson said. “We’re between a rock and a hard place; it doesn’t make sense to turn people away when there are rooms being used basically for supplies.”
Manson said housing has changed out seven of those rooms, and the housing department plans on changing about 10 more.
“If these groups [international students] do materialize, then we do need to start thinking about what next fall will hold. With the increase in sport programs, there are a lot more students just here in Texas that are excited to go to Wesleyan,” Manson said. “It’s not just international students we’re accommodating. It’s just Wesleyan has caught on fire with people.”
Manson said there is no solution yet on where these students will go.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen over the summer to OC Hall,” Manson said.
Manson said it is difficult to say what could possibly happen to the Rambler office on the first floor of OC Hall.
“It’s not as simple as just taking the rooms back; the Rambler has to have a place to go as well as the faculty,” Manson said. “It sounds great to turn OC back into a residence hall, but it is being used in some very vital spaces. It is not just a click of the fingers.”
Amanda Moten, senior history major, said there are a lot of assumptions that the only thing student and Greek organizations are losing is a place to hold storage.
“In reality we are losing our offices, the place where we conduct meetings, and effectively plan and often conduct all that we each do,” Moten said.
Moten said the organizations understand that Administration is not stripping them of all of these things intentionally, but it has become problematic.
Moten said the importance of Greek organizations and student organizations aren’t being fully downsized but will be left with half of what they had to begin with.
“Compromise ideally is key, but as of now, there does not appear to be much room for compromise,” Moten said. “It appears forgotten that these aspects of college life offer prestige to the campus and university as a whole, and it is these Greek and student organizations that encourage retention and student involvement.”
Tyler Mendez, junior political science major and vice president of Student Government Association [SGA], said he feels strongly about the offices that are being turned into dorm rooms.
“Obviously I have committed some time in that building [OC Hall]. I have meetings as well. It’s like a second home to us [student organizations], and we are being stripped of our second home in a way,” Mendez said. “It sounds like they have already made the decision without going by us. I feel like we have an opinion. We are all student body, and those are our spaces, so I feel like we are being treated unfairly.”
Mendez said the student organizations are going to try to get their voices heard respectfully. SGA and other organizations are still trying to decide how to approach this situation.
“We don’t want this to be an attack. For me, I want to push the fact that I want to stay in that building at least until the end of the semester, because I don’t think it’s fair for them to just boot us out,” Mendez said. “I understand the president [Slabach] has some hard decisions to make, and this is one of them. I don’t think he knew it was a problem until now.”