Students, faculty enthusiastic about large freshman class

“Our messages about our identity, who we are and what we offer is definitely making an impact, and identifies many individuals that can see themselves here and hopefully find a sense of belonging here as well,” Seattle Pacific University’s President Dr. Dan Martin said at the annual SPU State of the University Address.

As the 2018-2019 school year begins, excitement and school spirit arises from the incoming class, as well as Martin himself.

“It should be a good year. I’m excited about the new students coming in, first time students as well as transfers, so hopefully they’ll bring a lot of energy to campus,” Martin said.

While it is undeniable that SPU has had trouble recruiting students in the past, Martin believes that recruitment issues and low enrollment has been due to the nationwide 2 million student decrease in enrollment the last six years.

“These are challenging days for all of higher education institutions, so many of them are facing enrollment challenges,” he said.

According to Martin, since 1996 there has been a thousand new colleges and universities added to the market. “There’s fewer students with a growing number of institutions.”

Although the amount of higher education institution creates competition, Dr. Martin believes that the qualities SPU holds high will reach students who share the same values.

The 2018-2019 school year has welcomed the largest incoming class SPU has seen in five years.

Eryn Tan is one of the many first-year students within this year’s large incoming class.

Although Tan was born in Sacramento, California, her family relocated to Penang, Malaysia when she was four. Since moving to Penang, Tan has only come back to the U.S. for short term vacations.

Tan enrolled at SPU through the influence of her two cousins who have both attended the institution. One of which is enrolled as a sophomore this year. She has had a positive experience thus far because of the “friendly environment” and the way SPU emphasizes connecting with its students.

“There’s so many of us, there’s a lot less strangers than I thought there would be,” Tan said.

Tan credits SPU on its accessibility and accommodations towards new students. “The residence halls are also very nice,” she added.

Before arriving at SPU, Tan was not aware of the rumored stigmas that SPU holds, such as being a conservative and non-inclusive community. “I definitely wasn’t aware of them, my family loved it here,” she said.

As for the gender ratio, Tan believes that people say it more often than she notices it. “It also doesn’t bother me much.

I used to be in an all girls government school, I really don’t mind,” she added.

While Tan moved onto campus on Sept. 19 with the majority of the incoming class, first-year student Brayden Schultz arrived in Queen Anne in early August, in order to prepare for the cross country season.

Originally from Kenmore, Schultz was invited by one of SPU’s track and field and cross country assistant coaches, Chris Reed, to visit the campus.

Schultz’s deciding factor was the cross country team. “The cross country recruiting process was definitely a big part of how I found SPU.

Once I came, I knew it would be a great fit for school and athletics,” he said.

“Compared to the other schools I was looking at, Chris was very energetic and had lots of aspirations for building the team with my recruiting class being a big part of that, which was really exciting,” Schultz said.

However, his first-year experience has not been a walk in the park. As a student athlete, Schultz has found managing time for academics and a D2 sport challenging.

“Getting homework done is a lot harder when you’re already tired from a workout, so the procrastination has been real,” he said.

However he has found that it has overall been a great experience. His favorite part has been “meeting so many new people in such a short time.”

While the gender ratio initially did not seem like a big deal, Schultz admits that since arriving to campus, it has been more noticeable than he had presumed it would be.

He emphasizes the impact the ratio has had on SPU’s athletics.

“It’s also reflected in the cross country program as well, where the women’s team is really good and dominant in our conference, while the men’s program is still building,” he said.

When asked about SPU’s increase in enrollment this year, Schultz states that he was not aware, but that it “makes sense.”

“Everyone seems super pumped to be here and there’s already a lot of school spirit even this early in the year.”

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