Major current and projected enrollment increases underline the harm that would be done at Utah State University if the initiative to take sales tax off food were approved, the USU Institutional Council heard in its monthly meeting Saturday.
Enrollment on the USU campus as of Friday night was running nearly 10 percent ahead of a year ago at the same time, Richard Jacobs, director of institutional research, told the council.He said projections a year ago were that the university would grow by about 300 students this fall, but instead, the head count is running more than 1,000 ahead.
This occurred, Jacobs said, in spite of the fact that the number of Utah high school graduates was down in June. Beginning next year, the high school graduating classes are projected to grow for eight years. This indicates further growth may be expected, he said.
Final enrollment will not be known for two more weeks when the last students complete registration. Jacobs expects the final figure to be around 15,000.
Saying that the enrollment increases demonstrate that loss of revenue from the sales tax would have substantial impact on higher education, council member Booth Wallentine moved that the council reaffirm an earlier resolution against the initiative.
He also asked that Ken Anderton, council chairman, contact municipal governments of the area to ask their "vigorous" opposition to the initiative, not only because of how it would hurt USU, but also because it would have adverse impact on the local governments.
"Many of these new students would have no opportunity to enroll in college if the tax initiative were in effect," council member James Bingham said.
After passage of the motion, Anderton said the university welcomes the influx of new students, even though the numbers created some problems of resources and the logistics of handling them. The university opened new sections of classes, found additional housing with the help of the community and dealt well with the increase, he said.
Provost Karen Morse said USU dealt with the influx in several ways. It asked faculty to admit more students to classes (and this means that if a professor assigns 10 papers to be written in a quarter, and admits four more students, the professor must read 40 more papers, she pointed out).
It found teachers and opened additional sections of classes in English, mathematics, languages, biology and business. The physical plant department moved people around to create housing space and the community responded with more housing space, she said.
The university thanks the community for the help, she said.