The U of C campus is home to no less than seven trailer parks, but unless a tornado sweeps through Calgary in the near future, don't expect them to go away.
"It's the most visual symbol of the government's mismanagement of post secondary education," said Students' Union President Matt Stamaugh. "Trailers belong on a construction site, not a university campus."
There are 38 individual trailer units totaling 3111.62 square metres, located on seven sites all across campus. Eleven of these units are owned and maintained by the university at a cost of $5,000 per year, while the remainder are leased out and maintained by ATCO. In addition to being aesthetically displeasing, the trailers offer additional classroom, storage, and Registrar's space. These trailers are intended to be temporary, but it is unclear as to how long they will remain since there is no specific plan to alleviate the space issue on campus.
"I don't think that we will see a change imminently," said U of C Vice-President of External Communications Roman Cooney. "We've got to make some of those decisions with respect to budget priorities over the next weeks and months."
Neither the students nor administration want these mobile units on campus, but there simply is not enough space for the amount of students on campus.
"Of course we don't want to have trailers on campus," said Cooney. "More to the point, we don't want crammed classrooms either."
Are the trailers a symptom of a larger problem, mainly that the U of C has too many students?
"Over the last seven years we have made the decision to accept more students to increase access," said Cooney. "One of the effects of taking on more students is that we have bigger class sizes and more pressure on the institution. That was a trade-off that we felt was reasonable."
This is contrary to the strategies of most other universities in Canada, where increased class sizes and uncapped enrollment are viewed as detrimental to the quality of university education. Theis university however, feels that we have just now reached the breaking point for student capacity.
"We have reached a point where we are not improving the education of students by accepting more students," said Cooney. "At that point, the quality of education is diminished when you have more students than the physical capacity to teach."
By announcing the enrollment cap a couple of weeks ago, the university is addressing the concerns campus overpopulation; but both the presence of the trailers and the U of C's 14th place standing in Maclean's magazine suggest that we reached that point some time ago. There will not be any solutions to the overcrowding in the near future, but steps are being taken by administration.
"We need to set some priorities," said Cooney. "We cannot continue to take on more students if it means that we aren't able to give them the quality of education that they want and expect."