Enrollment at Evergreen State College drops 5%, hiring freeze to follow

What did they expect? After last year’s fiasco in which students shouted at police, demanded professors resign, and briefly carried baseball bats around campus, enrollment is down at Evergreen State College. An “Enrollment and Budget Update” dated August 28, said the school has a $2.1 million budget deficit caused partly by a decline in enrollment.

“Our 2017 fall registration as of mid-August is 212 students fewer than at this time in 2016,” the document states. It continues, “While resident undergraduate numbers remain relatively steady, we have seen a decrease in nonresident student numbers, which has a disproportionate impact on tuition revenue and the budget. Out of the 212 fewer students, 210 are nonresident.

In 2016-17 the average annual full-time enrollment (AAFTE) was 3,922. In 2017-18 the AAFTE is anticipated to be 3,713. We anticipate the decline to continue into 2018-19 to perhaps as low as 3,600.”

If they lost just over 200 students this year, a loss of just over 100 next year sounds pretty optimistic at this point. But a spokesman for the school denies the decline is the result of what took place last year. From KUOW:

Evergreen spokesman Zach Powers sees it differently, saying a big factor is heightened competition among small liberal arts colleges.

“This is a situation that is ongoing and is something that we are exploring different options and solutions to,” Powers said.

Powers noted nearly all of this fall’s enrollment drop came from the category of out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition.

I don’t think heightened competition is the problem. It is true that Evergreen has been on a downward slide for several years, but this school has become a national laughing-stock. It’s name is now synonymous with progressive dysfunction. It makes perfect sense that the people most sensitive to that change would be the people paying the most to attend, i.e. out-of-state students.

As we’ve seen at the University of Missouri, it could be some time before enrollment levels off at a much lower level. The claim that next year they will only lose another 100 or so students could turn out to be very optimistic. And that’s bad news for the school since, as the budget update points out, nearly 90% of that money goes directly to salaries. “In a college where 89 percent of the operating budget is in salaries and benefits, it is impossible to reduce the budget by substantial amounts without giving up positions,” the document states. “In anticipation of this, we will soon be announcing a hiring freeze,” it continues.

But it’s doubtful that the school’s current administration has learned anything from last year’s fiasco. After mentioning the hiring freeze, the budget document states, “We must continue our efforts to make Evergreen a student-ready college. Our work in equity and inclusion is an important step in this process.” That’s a wordy way of saying the school plans to keep digging into the morass of intersectionality that created the mess we saw last year. There is a real possibility we could see another eruption of student protests at the school this year.

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