Recent population projections indicate that California will continue to grow by about half a million people a year for the next 30 years. As that growth continues, there will also be an increased number of university students.
Given that a large number of the new population will be immigrants from Mexico with poorer education levels, many will invariably end up in the CSU system. CSUN, as one of the largest CSUs, is expected to bear a large part of the burden caused by this new influx of students.
Plans are being drawn up for the campus to be able to accommodate the continuing growth, and I don’t like them one bit. We have a beautiful campus here. There’s plenty of green grass and open space for students to congregate, something that is extremely rare at the other urban L.A.-area CSUs, like CSU L.A. and CSU Fullerton. Expanding to add new buildings and classrooms would ruin this atmosphere.
Worse than that, the parking situation, which is already terrible, would be exacerbated by the addition of 10,000 or more cars searching for spaces. The end result of that would be the entire perimeter of the campus being ringed in by the hideous steel-and-concrete monsters commonly referred to as “parking structures.” These eyesores not only make our campus look like a dump, but provide a haven for criminals.
Even if parking structures were acceptable, they would do nothing for the lines at the bookstore and Admissions and Records. With thousands of new students, these facilities would eventually require the formation of temporary hobo villages, complete with medical tents and porta-potties. Students would have to arrive days in advance, as if they were attempting to see the pope’s corpse or get tickets to the new Star Wars movie.
I know a lot of people are thinking this doomsday scenario won’t affect them, since it’s at least a decade away. Then again, considering the time it takes an average CSUN student to graduate, some of them might still be here in 2035.
But there is a better way.
Instead of expanding the existing CSUs, the state should build more CSU campuses. The UC system, already anticipating the influx of more college students, has recently constructed UC Merced up in the Central Valley to help deal with the overflow. The CSU system should do something similar.
There are several areas in Southern California that are growing in population, but still have land available that could be used to form new CSUs. Of key interest to the CSUN community is the Antelope Valle, in part because people continue to move there for the cheaper cost of living. Building a CSU Palmdale would not only provide that community with something to be proud of, but would reduce the burden on CSUN, as well as cut down on pollution caused by the many CSUN students who commute from there.
Another area like that is southern Orange County, which has begun to flourish in the past 15 years. Twenty years ago, most of these communities were nothing but barren hillsides. Currently, south O.C. residents who don’t get into UC Irvine end up having to move somewhere else or commute to CSU Fullerton or San Diego State. Adding a new CSU in one of the growing communities like Las Flores or Aliso Viejo would solve this problem. Other areas to consider are Santa Barbara and Riverside counties, both of which have no CSU campuses.
One thing that Northern California has over Southern California is the small-town college experience, as exemplified by Humboldt State or CSU Chico. There is no equal to that in Southern California, but there are a lot of students who want that rural, get-away-from-it-all college lifestyle, without having to be too far from home. On recent road trips, I have noticed several areas with acres of land for sale at bargain prices. These were mainly available between Chiriaco Summit and Blythe on the I-10, and on the I-5 between here and the Central Valley. The state could buy that land cheaply and build there, and a town might sprout up around it. Another way to establish a rural CSU is to just build one in an existing small town.
After all, why ruin what we have here when we can just pass the problem off to somebody else?
Dylan Boggs is a senior broadcast journalism major.