Classzilla problems encourage some first-years to transfer

By NOAH FOSTER-KOTH/// Senior Staff Writer

Lewis & Clark’s 2016 freshman class is the largest in the school’s history, earning the nickname “Classzilla” from students and staff. But Classzilla is about to shrink substantially, as many freshman students have made plans to leave LC next year.

Freshman Lucy Stordahl was originally attracted to LC because of its location in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the fact that both of her parents are LC alumni. Stordahl’s mother majored in English, while her father was a music major. Stordahl has yet to choose her major, but she said, “I like the sciences better than math or English.”

Stordahl wants to study “something that ends in -ology, probably biology.” She said that if she could go through the school selection process over again, she would “pick a school that was bigger and had a more advanced science program.”

“When I visited, I wish I had gone and talked to students who weren’t being paid to show me the school,” Stordahl said. “I wish I had gone to the Bon and talked to people who actually have real experiences and aren’t going to glamorize them at all.”

“I’ve also been kind of disappointed in some of the structures here at LC,” Stordahl said. “Living in Copeland, we didn’t have washing machines in my wing for months, and the showers were flooded. You’re paying for all these amenities and you’re not getting any of them… It’s kind of frustrating.”

Next year, Stordahl plans to take classes at a community college until she has enough credits to be a junior. “I live in California, and the University of California schools want you to transfer as a junior,” Stordahl said.

Like Stordahl, freshman Michaela West is returning to her home state of Utah for school next year. During her initial college selection process, West was denied admission to her first choice, Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. She said that LC was her second choice after Whitman.

Initially, LC appealed to West because of its small size and student activism groups. “I was really intrigued by the Feminist Student Union and the Black Student Union and all that stuff. Last semester, the FSU stopped holding community meetings, and I was pretty disappointed.”

West originally thought that she wanted to study Sociology and Anthropology. However, during her freshman year at LC, she attended a friend’s occupational therapy appointment in Portland and realized that she wanted to pursue a career in occupational therapy.

“I want to be an occupational therapist that specializes in in-patient care,” West said. “If someone experiences a severe physical accident, I would work with them in their home to help them adapt and cope with their injury.”

West will finish her second semester at LC before transferring to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She said that the University of Utah has a “great program” for occupational therapy.

“I’m going back home mainly for educational purposes. What I want to study isn’t offered here,” West said.

Financial considerations also contributed to West’s decision to transfer to a public college. “I figured I could save a lot of money going to a state school, and then use that money to pay for graduate school,” West said.

West and Stordahl will both finish their second semester at LC and return to their home states this summer. By contrast, freshman Gabe Cavanaugh dropped out of LC earlier this semester and has already moved back to his home in New York, where he is looking for work as a bike messenger. He says his second semester was off to a worse start than the first.

“I felt like I was wasting time, money and energy, along with degrading my academic image…I was unable to cope with my personal problems along with school work. I had to choose one and the choice was clear,” Cavanaugh said.

Cavanaugh said that he originally enrolled in LC because “I was enticed by the 24/7 counseling service I remember being advertised, but that was not the case.” Cavanaugh was also attracted to LC’s “supposed diversity” but says that “coming from New York, LC is very white.”

“Our school likes to put on a mask,” Cavanaugh said in an interview conducted over email. “We like to say that we’re eco-friendly, when our Designated Smoking Areas are littered with cigarette butts. We like to say that everyone can be a part of the conversation, but when depression and anxiety seem to be the driving forces in your life, it is hard to join in on public discussions. I feel that I was lied to and deceived into enrolling in Lewis and Clark.”

Cavanaugh said that he has “no clue” what he will do next year. “I did not expect or plan to be in this situation,” Cavanaugh said. “It feels odd leaving your peers with no real plan for the future. I hope to return to school next year and I have been thinking about Portland State University over LC, partially because it is a bigger school.”

Cavanaugh said that he also experienced difficulties during the enrollment periods at LC. “In my two semesters worth of class enrollments at LC, I had many problems signing up for four classes that I was interested in, because of scheduling conflicts or getting last priority.”

“I love the people at LC,” Cavanaugh said. “I just wish I could feel the same way about the school as a whole.”

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