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“We want to be on top of our game, so to speak, so we can compete effectively with other institutions.”

So said John Baworowsky, Saint Louis University's vice president of Enrollment Management and Academic Services, in the Post-Dispatch last week, in reference to recent University improvements. He makes a fine point.

This summer, SLU has undertaken numerous projects-improving facilities, creating new programs and degrees-to maintain such effective competition. Most newsworthy this summer: The June groundbreaking of the Research Center, and SLU's acquisition of two-thirds of the funds needed for the Billiken Arena. However, to returning students, the most obvious changes at SLU are much less high-profile.

Notice: New campus food options. New kitchenettes and floor lounges.

And more: the Department of Housing and Residence Life has installed a brand new check-in system in all of the residence halls and both Marchetti Towers-a card-key system of locks, and fashionable flat screen monitors that allow deskworkers to observe the credentials of every incoming resident.

Students pay attention to these smaller, more tangible, everyday changes. While more expansive projects like the arena loom for months or years in the background of student life, changes like the new card-key system are immediate.

For many prospective students, such seemingly insignificant changes may make or break attendance. And SLU does well to keep up with the Joneses in many areas-for the most part, the summer's renovations are have a precedent with other universities.

As our University continues to improve, it attracts greater numbers of students and enrolls more of them every year (1,562 this year, compared to 1,446 last).

If we continue on this track, as more and more students likewise decide to live in campus housing, what happens if that housing becomes oversaturated?

Beginning this year, a portion of SLU-sponsored scholarships are tied to housing. Coupled with increased enrollment, this measure ensures an increase of campus-dwelling students.

There will soon be fewer rooms available for this increased number of residents. A portion of the Grand Forest Apartments will be knocked down to make room for the arena. A handful of rooms in the residence halls are now occupied by new kitchenettes and lounges.

The causes attracting more students to live on campus are beneficial to the University; however, the potential consequence-overcrowding-is not.

According to residence life's mission statement, “On-campus living at Saint Louis University provides an integral part of a student's educational experience, offering opportunities and services beneficial to [a student's] overall development.” We hope that students can continue to benefit from effective on-campus housing.

This is the kind of small thing that will keep the University in shape to compete.

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