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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Opinion: A&M is for the streets

Photo by Graphic by Selena Casino

Opinion columnist Benjamin Barnes says A&M admits too many students, leading to overcrowded spaces on campus and infrastructure problems in College Station.

A&M is for the streets.

 Yes, you heard me. For the boomers in the back and the small number of based zoomers who distance themselves from social media, being “for the streets” is most commonly used as an insult for someone who is ‘passed around’—— if you catch my drift.

However, it is also applicable to companies and institutions that compromise their morals in favor of popularity or personal gain.

Promiscuous, serial player, opportunistic, call it what you want but when I picture A&M’s admission’s office, I see it on a popular street corner, under a dimly lit street lamp, smoking a cigarette.

I’m sure you know A&M boasts one of the largest student bodies in the country, wavering anywhere between 70,000-75,000 each year. I’m also sure you’ve heard one or more of the patented mantras the admissions office and poor tour guides are forced to gleefully declare in response to this:

“Here, we’re not a group of students, we’re a great big family!”

“Some people call us a cult, and most of us won’t even deny it.”

Look, there’s nothing wrong with embracing traditions or wanting all of College Station to be red-ass. However, there is a problem with admitting too many people into what is supposed to be a selective and respected institution. For reference, our acceptance rate is currently a whopping 63% with the top 10% of high school graduates in their respective classes guaranteed admission.

Much like cuts on a sports team, weeding out some students in the enrollment process is a “necessary evil” if we wish to remain competitive. If A&M consistently admits more students than the year before without also adding enough additional classes, it is a detriment to everyone.

Take a look at the registration process. The more students that are admitted, the faster classes fill up. This means students may have to take filler courses in the meantime. If the number of excess students stick around after their first-year, our four-year graduation rates drop which needless to say, looks bad on us.

Again, that’s assuming these students decide to stick around all while resisting the urge to transfer to a school that runs their registration process more efficiently.

I want to reiterate, I am not saying we need to significantly slash our enrollment numbers, but could we cut back on aiming to accept record-breaking classes every single year.

College Station officials reported having trouble with matching infrastructure alongside its rapidly growing population back in 2016 when campus student population was less than 61,000. The main points included housing and wastewater treatment.

Fast forward more than seven years later, and we’ve got federal reports saying housing is now unaffordable and traffic is nothing akin to what it was in years past. It’s the same story with a different, larger set of students.

The biggest issue plaguing A&M students today is arguably the current housing crisis that has become a rather hot topic among A&M students, law enforcement, College Station residents and local legislatures. By enforcing the “no more than four” ordinance, the city of College Station is sending a message to the thousands of students affected by a shortage in housing — A&M may not care about capacity but we sure do.

Still not convinced? How about the fact there are anywhere from one to five advisors on average responsible for thousands of students within each discipline in the College of Arts & Sciences.

“OK, but students don’t need to see their counselors every day.” True, they may not need to see them on a daily basis, however, when students need help at the beginning of semesters and during registration periods, it’s nothing short of chaotic. Even in the middle of a semester when everyone’s schedules are set in stone, it’s near impossible to get an appointment.

Having too many students also bleeds into other issues like the need for more seating in the Sbisa dining hall. Some students looking to dine have no other choice but to sit in spaces that weren’t designed to serve as tables, resulting in them having to physically hold their plates with one hand and eat with the other.

A prime example of this overcrowding issue is the upstairs Sbisa area, where chairs have been placed in front of countertops that previously held soda machines. For reference, the base cabinets beneath provide absolutely no legroom. This causes several students to make the choice between sitting perpendicular to their meal and turning with every bite or just holding it in front of their mouths altogether.

I haven’t even mentioned the traffic on Wellborn or the sardine-packed buses that make commuting something to lament. Unfortunately, a respectable and enjoyable college experience isn’t as easy as saying “the more the merrier.” Our goal should never be to just plainly admit more students year after year, which the university has openly prioritized over making the students here feel more at home.

If anyone can be the 12th man, how special can it be? 

The admissions office is locked in on boosting enrollment at the expense of everything else. Aggie culture has become a cliché. We’re for the streets, and if we don’t change, our students’ experiences will only get worse.

Benjamin Barnes is a telecommunication media studies senior and opinion columnist for The Battalion.

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About the Contributor
Bj Barnes
Bj Barnes, Opinion Columnist
Benjamin Barnes is a Telecommunication Media Studies senior from Rochester, Indiana. Barnes' has been involved with The Battalion since his junior year and plans to start his own media group following graduation. If he's not writing, he's most likely watching a Texans game or at the gym.
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