Campus Connection, Sept. 19, 2011

The Merciad has partnered with student newspapers at Gannon University (The Gannon Knight) and Penn State Behrend (The Beacon) during the 2010-11 school year.

Our goal is to bring you the most important news happening on local college campuses each week.

Dry campus causing issues for housing

You heard it correctly, Penn State Behrend will become a dry campus starting in the 2012-13 school year. If you are of age and live in an on-campus apartment, you cannot consume alcohol on Behrend property. The question that is on the minds of all Behrend students, faculty and staff is how this new policy will affect campus housing.

As of right now, freshman halls Niagara, Perry, Lawrence and Senat are all dry. Even the other residential halls that house both under and upperclassmen have certain regulations against drinking. Students not of legal drinking age cannot be in the presence of alcohol, so when legal-aged students are drinking, underage students must leave the room.

University Park originally wanted Behrend to go dry starting in the 2011-12 school year, but since some students already have their housing contracts this was not possible. One of housing’s biggest concerns is if students will move off campus because of the dry policy.

Out of the 283 people who will live in the apartments as of Jan. 1, 2012, 206 people will be of legal drinking age according to a recent study.

“If students choose to move off campus, we are going to need to fill those beds,” said Kelly Shrout, Associate Director of Student Affairs.

If there are still empty spots in the apartments after all of the upperclassmen apply for them, it is possible that underclassmen may be allowed to live in the apartments.

Shrout said students that will be 21 or older next year need to decide what is more important: being able to drink whenever one feels like it, or being in the middle of all the important things happening at school.

“I think the way they have it is smart enough,” Zack Cathcart, a junior psychology major, said about Behrend’s current alcohol policy. Cathcart currently lives in an on-campus apartment and is planning on living there again next year.

“In all honesty, I’m turning 21 halfway through this year, so I’m not too excited about it,” Cathcart said.

“If there’s going to be any changes it needs to happen quickly,” said Ken Miller, director of student affairs. “There needs to be a response from the students.”

Miller believes that if there is an “oh well” response from the students about the new policy, then there will be no hope in altering the policy. Does that mean that the policy will change if students show their disagreement with it? No. However, Miller feels that students need to advocate for themselves with University Park if they want something done about the policy, as it was issued to students from the main campus.

“We’re going to have an event for people to come voice their issues,” Tseng said.

This event will take place later in the year and will give students the chance to give their opinions on the dry campus policy and hopefully catch the attention of University Park.

Something that many Behrend students, faculty and staff are ignorant to is the fact that the dry campus decree was sent by Graham Spanier, Penn State University President.

“This decree about going dry came from University Park. It’s not a Housing decision,” Shrout said.

Shrout said that Spanier wants the university to be as safe as possible and he is doing the best he can for the students.

Whether the students of PSB decide to fight the dry policy is a decision everyone 21 and older will have to make. Will students fighting the policy make a difference on the already passed decree?


Enrollment on the rise at Gannon

By Dan Kubacki, staff writer

The enrollment numbers at Gannon University have surpassed a record high that hasn’t been seen in nearly two decades. According to Vice President of Enrollment Bill Edmondson, Gannon’s class of incoming freshmen – listed at 675 students – is the highest the university has seen in more than 18 years.

Edmondson said he was impressed with the numbers because of the declining demographic of high school students. There has even been a significant drop in the number of high school students participating in the dual-enrollment programs.

“We did well in a market where there are actually fewer prospective students than in recent years,” Edmondson said. “From an undergraduate’s perspective, it probably seems a lot busier on campus.

“The echo of the baby boom is trailing off, so that’s why the demographics are going down,” he said. “I think the new things that we put in place will allow us to continue some of the strong enrollments that we’ve seen.”

Edmondson attributed several factors to the enrollment growth, including a revamped scholarship program and the university’s decision to join The Common Application, which allows applicants to fill out a single application that can be viewed by several colleges at once.

“We’re able to expose Gannon to students that maybe traditionally we’d not,” said Terry Kizina, director of undergraduate admissions. “We get on their radars, and that has helped us very much.”

According to Edmondson, this was the first year that Gannon sent out scholarship information with its acceptance letters.

“When a student got accepted, they also knew what scholarship level they were going to get,” he said.
Gannon also changed the way that the Valedictorian Scholarship was awarded, instead holding an academic competition to determine the receivers of a full-tuition grant.

“We expected 30, hoped for 50, and we had 120,” Edmondson said.

According to Edmondson, the growth in enrollment was “across the board,” although the health professions remain the most popular.

Gannon even added a new biomedical engineering major to its course offerings, and despite the recent accreditation of the program, the university still accepted nine new freshmen this fall, according to Kizina.

“That’s a significant number considering the time that we had to recruit that population,” Kizina said. “With our strong engineering and health backgrounds, biomedical engineering was a natural thing to now offer, and students flocked to it.”

This year’s new enrollment also includes an increase in undergraduate international students, now at 78 students, up from 43 last year. Gannon has students from 34 states and 32 countries, according to Kizina.

“When we look at our population, sometimes we think it as very local, and in some ways it is,” Kizina said. “However, when we look at our entire population, students are coming from all over.”

“Maybe that speaks to what our reach is and really what it could be,” he said.

Gannon’s administration is excited by the increased enrollment, especially out-of-state and international students, because the university’s population will continue to get stronger. “I think, the further you reach, the more stable your enrollment will be over time,” Edmondson said. “That way you’re not dependent on one area.”

Although this incoming undergraduate class is the highest Gannon has seen in 18 years, Edmondson was realistic in his approach to the coming years. He even acknowledged that other colleges will see what Gannon has accomplished and seek to improve their enrollment, too.

“It’s kind of an ebb and a flow,” Edmondson said. “But we’re optimistic that we’ll be able to maintain and incrementally grow the levels that we’re at.”

Both Edmondson and Kizina acknowledged that the entire university staff is to be congratulated for this year’s record-setting enrollment.

“It’s not just admissions,” Kizina said. “It’s Financial Aid. It’s New Student Services. It’s the faculty. It’s everyone.”

“It takes a university to recruit a class,” Edmondson said.

With this year’s enrollment, Gannon has shown it possesses what applicants are looking for, and if the faculty unity is any indication, Gannon’s numbers will continue to grow.

“We made an awful lot of changes this year,” Edmondson said. “We’re going to allow those to settle a little bit, and then look for the next opportunity.”