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The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

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AT CAPACITY: Enough’s enough with prioritizing money over students

Abbey Cutrer
Students sit in the Gatton Student Center on the first day of class on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

In two years, over 12,000 new students have been welcomed to the University of Kentucky. While the college’s financials seem to be doing extremely well, campus life is having problems left to right. 

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, it’s shown that UK has taken in over 70% more in tuition and fees than they did two decades ago. Over my past three years here, construction, parking, housing and transportation have only worsened as the university’s income increases. 

UK Housing has tried to accommodate the influx of students through the TRI-IT pilot program, where previously two-bedroom suites now hold three students, with bunk beds in one of the bedrooms — what they think is a solution to an ongoing problem.

Just during last year, I heard and saw plenty of freshmen who were living off campus because there weren’t enough rooms on campus. While students aren’t required to live on campus their first year, it’s important in the aspect of creating friendships and becoming comfortable with campus. 

Now, the options for both on and off-campus housing are slim: living off-campus away from the activity, living with three students in a two person suite or getting lucky and getting a single bedroom. If there wasn’t enough room for all of the freshmen to live on campus (if they choose to), then UK shouldn’t have accepted as many students as they did. 

Besides just housing, the ongoing parking fiasco continues to be a part of the conversation. 

Even though students have paid for parking passes, many are being sent to overflow parking off-campus or not being able to find a spot at all. For parking passes to be as expensive as $500, the university shouldn’t sell more passes or admit more students than they have available spots for. 

Students walk towards the Gatton Student Center on Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Smallwood | Staff

For students who don’t drive, buses are overcrowded and fairly unreliable. I live off-campus and the Red Mile buses have been crowded to the point where students are falling onto each other, or they show up 20 minutes after the estimated time. It isn’t just an issue with this route either. Blue and white route buses are just as frustrating. 

I understand the desire to grow the university and give as many students the opportunity to go to college as possible, but UK over-accepting students as a way to make more money is not a way to help the university. 

I would love to be proven wrong, but nothing is being improved. If the university continues to take more and more money from student tuition and fees, they need to use it to make campus more convenient and comfortable for students. Especially considering that tuition jumped 2.5% from the 2022-2023 school year. 

Although these issues are frustrating, there isn’t much that we can do as students. While unfortunate, it’s the truth. What’s important to remember is that we can and should hold officials and organizations accountable. Issues with accessibility and basic living conditions cannot be swept under the rug, and there are definitely ways to improve that aren’t being actively worked on. 

For example, if some students are being forced to park far off campus in overflow parking, UK should work to improve transportation and buses so students don’t have to stress over making it to class on time. As for housing, it’s a difficult situation all around. But if TRI-IT rooms and freshman living off-campus are the solution, maybe the university should stop accepting students once dorms are full. 

Students being comfortable on campus should be the top priority of a university — after safety, of course. It’s frustrating to see so many students and parents upset about the conditions, especially at a university that isn’t exactly inexpensive to attend in most cases. 

While I’m sure UK has good intentions in the long run, I think that students’ living conditions should always be placed above the amount of money that the university makes.

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Abbey Cutrer, Editor-in-Chief

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