It is a question you hear every election season: are you better off now than you were four years ago? Graduating seniors at St. John’s may be asking themselves that question this year as they prepare to move on from their college lives, having spent the last four years here.
The University must take a good look at itself, as well, and now that another graduating class prepares to get started in the real world, ask itself: is this a better place for students now than it was four years ago?
As a senior myself, having seen all the changes the University has made in that time, there is only one judgment that can be reached: St. John’s today represents a worse option than it did four years ago.
Of course, there have been plenty of improvements and many seniors are grateful for them. We have seen the introduction of the townhouses, giving residents more options and a greater sense of freedom.
They have constructed the crossroads lawn between St. John and Marillac Halls, along with several other beautification projects around the campus.
There is no argument: St. John’s is a more comfortable place to be now. The grounds look better, there is more housing, and once the new University Center is up, it will look even better. St. John’s has certainly become a more interesting option for unaware freshmen, but those who have been here for years know that the improvement is mostly surface-level.
The numbers reflect this: there may be more and more applications and enrollment every year, but it does not stop the school from still having a low retention rate.
If incoming freshmen could look a little deeper, they may hesitate in making their decision. Last year, St. John’s cleaned out their library, donating and otherwise shipping out many of its books in order to make more room for office space in St. Augustine Hall.
While the new library looks great, it was a sign that education is perhaps not the University’s first priority. The library of any University is the center of its knowledge and the best resource for all students. Decreasing the size of this place should be the last thing any University wants to do and was a sign that the school may not be as good a choice as it was four years ago.
Though we cannot pretend that the University is immune to the economic crisis, there will be some consequences from it that may make St. John’s a less attractive option. Fewer new hires of professors, more average (if you’re lucky) adjuncts, a smaller choice in classes, and less funding for student groups are all consequences that students are either already seeing or may see in the future.
Of course St. John’s is still a good option and many seniors would agree that they gained a lot from being here. However, the school may not be the same thing it was four years ago. Hopefully the future of the school will prove this argument wrong, for the sake of all the freshmen just getting started.