Vanessa Purpura / The Daily Gamecock

Opinion: Overcrowding affects academics, food access

It is no secret that the University of South Carolina, along with other schools across the country, is facing an overcrowding crisis. Specifically with the addition of 6,250 freshmen this fall, it has become even more unbearable to navigate the busy campus and find quiet areas.

Parking is atrocious and even causes students to be late to class or miss it entirely, wait times in Russell House are long and walking across campus takes even more time with the addition of so many students. It is quite confusing as to why the school over-admitted students since we were at capacity in previous years and could not replace housing in desperate need of updating. I understand higher education is ultimately a business, but there must be a balance between providing for students and gaining profit.

For the price that we students pay to attend this school, I believe we should be afforded the decency of having adequate parking and shuttle services, reasonable wait times for food and at the very least, every freshman should have access to on-campus housing. According to The State newspaper, the freshman class has grown 7% in the last year and 16 freshmen are being temporarily housed in hotels due to the overcrowding issue. No freshman student who is supposedly guaranteed housing should have to live in a hotel room instead of a dorm like everyone else.

The University of South Carolina having to resort to renting out off-campus apartments, isolating freshmen from main campus and eateries, is not a practical solution. It is already a struggle for some upperclassmen who live off-campus to find parking or wait for the shuttle, so it is really unfair to put this burden on a freshman.

I believe that life would be much easier for students if there were more access to shuttles and a greater variety of stops. If shuttles could run to and from campus more often or could take students to grocery stores, the need for students to bring their cars would be decreased. In addition to just taking students back to their dorm or apartment, shuttles could take them to the mall, zoo or other areas near campus.

If there is a shuttle to Five Points during the weekend, there should be a rotating shuttle that takes students to other places that would typically require a car. That would help alleviate the issue of lack of parking and give students the chance to explore what the city has to offer during not only the evening, but also the weekend. 

By implementing more shuttles, freshmen then could have extended access to campus, allowing greater utilization of the meal plans they are required to have. In addition, students with late labs, activities and classes would no longer have to worry about how they will be getting home.

If both on and off-campus housing strove to provide adequate shuttles, I think that would allow students to save money and less would feel the need to bring their cars. If students had an easier time getting to campus from their apartment or dorm, the need to drive would be significantly lessened. This change would help improve the overcrowding epidemic. 

There is not enough space or resources for students at the university this year. It is evident the school should be more focused on the quality of the experience which they offer. It is understandable that no place of higher education is perfect and not every student will have that flawless experience. However, there should never be a worry about the basic necessities needed to navigate college. If we make simple changes to improve transportation and accessibility to food, there would be fewer complaints about the high cost of attending school.

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