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Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

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AT CAPACITY: Influx of students on campus affects housing and transportation

Students walk through the Gatton Student Center on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Smallwood | Staff

After the University of Kentucky accepted yet another record-breaking number of students, multiple facets of student life at UK have been affected.

Official numbers have not been released for the 2023-2024 freshman class, but the university is on track to beat records.

“We will know more in September about what our preliminary enrollment numbers are, we are expecting to record a first year class of 6,400 to 6,500 students,” UK Spokesperson Jay Blanton said.

Last year, the university reached a record freshman class enrollment of 6,120, which makes this years class over 280 students larger.

As a result of the influx of students, overall enrollment is also projected to reach record numbers.

“We will have more than 33,000 total students for the first time as well,” Blanton added. 

With the addition to the student body, concerns regarding different services at UK have risen. These include student housing and parking.

For the 2023-2024 school year, the university introduced the TRI-IT Pilot Program.

The program is being tested this year in multiple residence halls on campus and involves the conversion of one of the bedrooms in a two-person suite to accommodate one extra person.

The halls involved in the program are Ball, Blazer, Chellgren, Haggin, Holmes, Jewell, Lewis, Pigman, Woodland Glen 4 and Woodland Glen 5, according to Wildcat Living.

Bunk beds and additional furniture were placed in one room while the other contained one bed. All three roommates are to share a common space and a bathroom.

The program was reportedly built to accommodate the increase in students at the university, according to UK Campus Housing’s Frequently Asked Questions. 

There is unprecedented demand among students to live on campus. More and more students and families want to attend UK, ” according to UK’s Campus Housing website.

The decision has upset some students and parents.

So my daughter and her best friend planned to dorm together and as soon as dorms opened we found they changed all the 2 bedroom suites to 3 bedroom Tri-it’s with a bunk,” a Facebook post on a page for UK parents said. “Every corner with this school has been bulls**t, surprises, or another hand out and it hasn’t even started yet.” 

In addition to concerns regarding student housing, parking has also been a problematic aspect of campus life for some students.

Parking in the red and blue lots at Kroger Field is available for periphery permit holders. The lot is accessible to students, employees and other staff. 

However, some students hold the opinion that challenging parking is a part of attending a large school.

“I think every school has bad parking. Honestly, that was always an issue for me at my undergraduate in St. Louis,” graduate student Nick Nahstoll said.

Bus accessibility has also been an aspect of transportation affected by the increase in students. 

“There have been times that I couldn’t get on one bus and had to take the next one,” Michaela Hunter, a senior and RA in Boyd Hall, said.

Hunter also said she was late to a class during the first week as a result of missing a bus due to it being filled to capacity.

When students are not worrying about catching the buses, they are worried about space.

“The bus has been very back-to-back, face-to-face type closeness,” sophomore Erynn Sims said.

King added that bus fullness has caused concerns for her about the number of buses available on campus.

“I guess you manage your own time, but when there’s so many people and they’re all trying to get somewhere different there’s just not what seems like enough buses,” King said.

Although students have held negative views surrounding the number of students on campus, UK has defended its enrollment decisions.

“We also think growth is important, too. We believe more Kentuckians should have an opportunity to come to UK and experience the kind of education that you only get at this university,” Blanton said.

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