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Home News High enrollment creates parking, housing challenges

Photo description: Empty faculty spots and a full student section in the Jesse parking lot

Photo credit: Nora Betts

Hope Nelson

Sower Staff


Concordia’s enrollment this year is higher than many people expected, meaning there are a lot of students on campus. This has been raising questions about whether on-campus parking and housing are overcrowded.

“[Our housing is] pretty full,” said Gene Brooks, vice president for Student Affairs, “probably 90-some percent of our maximum capacity.”

Currently, 824 students live on campus, with nearly 400 additional students living off campus, bringing Concordia’s full-time undergraduate enrollment to 1,210 at the
beginning of the 2023-24 school year.

Brooks recognizes that although Concordia still wants to grow its student body, changes will be necessary.

“Our goal as a university is to get to a total enrollment of around 1,300,” Brooks said. “We’re going to have to make some kinds of changes to our on-campus housing requirement.”

These changes could include lowering the age requirement for living off campus.

Concordia’s current off-campus housing rules require students to live at home with parents in Seward County, be married, supporting a child or to be over the age of 21 by Oct. 15 of the year in which they intend to live off campus.

Students are feeling the impact of record enrollment numbers.

“[High enrollment] impacts me by sometimes slowing down Janzow’s food line during lunch and
dinner,” said junior Thad Rathjen. “There have been lines that run out of the door which aren’t even worth waiting in just for a meal during the day.”

Off-campus housing options are available but limited. The Columbia Heights apartment complex, located on the west side of Columbia Avenue across from campus, recently built an additional apartment building. However, it does not have a significant increase in parking space. Many students who live off-campus may park on campus or along neighborhood streets during the day.

“I have a feeling that some of [the Concordia students who live in Columbia Heights] may be parking on
campus,” Brooks said.

Many Concordia students, whether they live off campus or on campus, feel that parking areas near Jesse and the dorms west of the Janzow Campus Center are the most crowded.

“There’s not enough parking in the lot next to the dorms and Jesse,” said senior Anna Sommerer. “Not only is this where off-campus students want to park, but on-campus students even have difficulty parking at night, [students who] live in those dorms.”

If there are parking spots available, many of them are either far away from most students’ classes or are reserved for faculty and visitors. Several said some of these spots could be made available to students.

“The only time [visitor]spots are used up are for special events, in which case visitors tend to take student parking anyway,” said junior Kirsten Horne. “It would be nice if some of those convenient spots could be reallocated for student use.”

However, other students recognized that despite the need for more parking, land itself may be limited around campus.

“I don’t know that the school can do anything to solve the problem, as there is nowhere to put more parking,” said sophomore Luke Lawrenz, who lives on campus.

“[More parking] is in the long-range plan,” Brooks said, but was not sure when in the future this may happen. A proposed plan would bring Concordia its own softball and baseball fields near the Walz Human Performance Complex, as well as additional parking. However, like many spots on campus, this
parking would be located far from where most students live and have classes.

Students and faculty say changes in Concordia’s parking and housing offerings may be necessary, but also recognize that constraints on these changes must be considered.

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