Saint Leo’s Expansion From a Graduating Senior’s Perspective

As an outgoing senior, I have been asked many times by my professors about the changes that have been made to Saint Leo University and what my opinion is on the improvements of my school, the School of Arts and Sciences. My answer is: I cannot help, but be worried and baffled at what is going on around campus.

The incoming freshmen class, like most recent years, is going to be exponentially larger, creating changes to campus to accommodate and strengthen their education experience. As anyone can see when they look around the campus, changes are being made, like new residence halls, better grounds maintenance, etc. However, what does all this mean and how is it going to effect the students who are not graduating, but ultimately have a few more years left at Saint Leo?

When I started my education experience at Saint Leo, the Student Activity Fee was a little more than $90, but now the fee has gone up to over $100. If the Saint Leo student population gets bigger, you can expect that the Student Activity Fee is going to get exponentially bigger as well. In congruence with that hike in price, the tuition is going to go up as well. Following the same logic that the increase in freshman will increase monetary values, the increase in students will also increase class sizes. So yes, you will be fighting for a seat in an entry-level class now because the influx of freshman into general education classes. Therefore, if you thought you could wait until the last minute to register for classes, you might want to think again and register for them now, before the class is completely full. While upper division student are given precedence over freshman for courses, it is not always guaranteed that you will get a spot in the course.

As a student and possibly a teacher in the future, class size is a huge issue. As a student, I picked Saint Leo because their class sizes were so small and because as a student, a smaller class means you have a better academic relationship with your professors. Having small class sizes means that students can get the help they need and work in a open and casual environment that is not restricted by the confusion of too many students needing help, or let’s face it, students being rude in class by talking or using their  cell phones. While Saint Leo has a strict policy on class decorum, not all students adhere to it and not all professors catch those students. However, in a smaller classroom, this is less likely happen.

Let me break it down a little further for the current students. If Saint Leo continues to grow, parking (even with the new parking garage that is set to be completed in Fall 2012) is going to be tough. We all know that freshman hate to walk from Marion Snyder, and insist on driving their cars over to the main campus and take up the little parking we have left for commuters, faculty, and other students. Parking, unfortunately, will still be an issue and might be a bigger issue, since future incoming freshman classes are going to get larger.

However, the positive aspects for the future that everyone is looking for is, no surprise, splashed with contradiction. As an outgoing senior, I can offer some sort of Lord Byron version of hope that might temper your cynicism with a collective list of possibilities for which you can be sure was written with the same student cynicism. The food on campus might get better because the Caf now has to feed more people, but more likely than not that line for the Caf is going to get longer and a table inside the Caf a lot harder to find. However, library resources might get better, but you will have to wait for books you need or get your books weeks in advance before the freshman suck them into the vortex of their dorm room, never to be seen again. Even more exciting, with the incoming of freshman and tuition money, the school can pay off its loans for the business building, parking garage, and residence hall. So rest assured, your tuition is paying for the building you might not have a class in, the parking garage that you have to fight to get a parking spot in, and the residence hall that is probably going to go to freshman (seeing as no student in their right mind would pay for a full meal plan because the Caf food is atrocious).

If you’re like me and you are a little worried about the large freshman class that is set to hit campus in the fall, you might want to reevaluate whether the Alumni Board, the Business Affairs office, or the Administration has your interests at heart when they approve the changes that are coming in the future for the student body. From my standpoint, academia seems to be turning into a lucrative business investment rather than an institution for higher learning. While there are many upsides to the expansion of Saint Leo and its student population, the downsides seem to outweigh any good. As a graduating senior, I feel for my fellow students and offer up these words of advice: hang in there, keep your head held high, and be the best student you can be. Even though Saint Leo is changing on the outside, the Core Values and camaraderie that exists in every student at this school is not like any other school in Florida and that is something for which you should be proud.

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