Illustration by Emil Hasnain
By Amina Omar
“These freshies are taking up all the space” was perhaps the most frequently heard and uttered phrase in the first few weeks of the semester. Discussions at the start of the Fall Semester 2019 revolved largely around one thing – overcrowding, with complaints about the lack of space in popular campus facilities like the Pepsi Dining Center (PDC), although new figures from the staff paint a different picture of the issue.
“I’ve never seen the campus this packed before,” claimed Muhammad Fateh, ’20.
Numerous posts surfaced on the LUMS Discussion Forum, ranging from claims that the incoming first-years were too large a batch, to critique directed at the administration for the pressure on infrastructure facilities. In a comment on the forum, Umair Saleem ‘20, said: “they are increasing batch size exponentially…without even batting an eye towards the capacity of facilities they provide.” The estimated batch size of the combined classes of 2021-23 is more than three thousand students. This was provided in the official statements by the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) on the orientation week for all three batch years respectively.
The computer labs become a prime source of student frustration. The burden on the IST labs has been felt across the student body. “The labs are almost always unavailable this semester,” shared Fahad Syed ‘21. He suggested that the lack of space is due to the increase in the student body this year, as well as more classes being scheduled there. The IST lab supervisor, Rameez Qureshi, corroborated one of these claims, stating that there are typically 100-200 more students using the labs than the previous year. “I’ve experienced an increase in traffic here as well,” he shared. However, he also cited the closure of the e-lab as a contributing factor to the added pressure. “That’s a loss of 50+ seats,” said Mr. Qureshi. The four IST labs currently host 214 computers between them.
The issue extends to different parts of the campus, specifically the PDC. “It gets difficult to deal with so many students. We are busy throughout breakfast, lunch and dinner these days,” stated a PDC staff member. Entering PDC during mealtimes, one is confronted with a large number of students and staff members alike forming several lines in front of the serving counters. “This is my first time in two years seeing lines this long at PDC,” claimed Minahil Fatima ‘22. “I just get my food packed and go to my dorm to eat it now,” she told The Post, asserting that it was nearly impossible to find a seat during rush hour. However, the PDC office supervisor, Mr. Shahzad, shared that there was only an influx of 30-40 students coming in to PDC, although the dining hall is equipped to deal with an increase of 100 students.
“We’ve added 50 chairs and 15 tables to cope with it right now,” he added, with the assurance that the class of 2023 was not especially greater than that of the previous years. “The overall increase in students [at PDC] over the past 4-5 years isn’t more than 5%,” he claimed. Mr. Shahzad also shared that the PDC staff has increased from 72 to 80 members – with most of the new employees relegated to cooking. The staff behind the counters concurred that food production had increased this year. “It always seems more crowded at the start of the semester but eventually everyone settles in,” was his final word on the matter.
The evidence provided thus questions claims by students about the extent of the overcrowding. Regardless of the true nature of the issue, it is not the first time the institution has been met with these concerns. In the 2015-2016 annual report published by LUMS, it was shared that similar issues were addressed through the inauguration of SAHSOL, hiring additional faculty members and building another hostel each for male and female students.