SGA may ask Western to implement enrollment cap

Cassie Riley

The Student Government Association will discuss legislation next Tuesday that will, if passed, request that Western implement an enrollment cap next year.

The legislation was tabled at an SGA Congress meeting last Tuesday after members requested more information be gathered about the topic before a vote takes place.

“It was communicated to me and (the other authors) that we needed to do more research,” said Brandon Copeland, SGA vice president of Administration. “We wanted to have as much information as possible.”

Provost Barbara Burch said she is pleased that SGA members decided to further research the possibility of an enrollment cap before passing legislation regarding the issue.

“We have looked at many options to handle our growth,” she said. “Obviously, it’s not a real simple thing.”

The legislation calls for Western to institute an enrollment cap to control the flow of students at a rate the university can afford.

University enrollment rose from 14,543 students in 1997 to an estimated 17,770 this fall.

According to the resolution, Western receives 60 percent of its funding from the state. However, the Council for Postsecondary Education has not yet increased funding to match Western’s growth as expected.

“(The legislation) is basically to express that SGA recommends that the university seriously consider a temporary or permanent enrollment cap,” Copeland said.

Luther Hughes, vice president of Enrollment Management, said the university is open to any suggestions SGA might have to relieve the pressures brought on by Western’s ballooning enrollment.

“We’ll take (the legislation) as an additional piece of information to put in our formula,” Hughes said.

He said with a possible state budget cut, Western is bringing in more students on less funding.

“The major issue is turning students away that want to come here,” Hughes said.

He said one way Western may alleviate the crunch is to raise requirements for entry to the university. Hughes said that less than five years ago the university raised its overall composite score requirement for the ACT from 18 to 20.

Raising requirements will cause prospective students to look at other colleges, he said.

Hughes and Burch both said an enrollment cap at Western is only a possibility. Hughes agreed, saying that administrators are weighing the numerous pros and cons of implementing an enrollment cap.

The decision whether to implement such a measure is “totally undecided,” said Hughes.

Reach Cassie Riley at [email protected]