By Lisa Donchak

This year UC Santa Cruz received fewer applications for Fall 2007 than in past years, according to the UC Office of the President.

Santa Cruz was the only UC campus that had a drop in freshman applicants. Overall, there were 350 fewer applications this year, despite a UC-wide increase in freshman applications of 5.3 percent.

While the decrease of freshmen and transfer students applications combined is only a one percent drop from last year, some opponents of the Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) believe this is evidence that the campus does not need to grow.

Don Stevens, a UCSC alumnus and co-founder of the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion (CLUE) said, “Why is there such an extreme demand to grow this campus if applications are dropping?”

However, according to Bill Ladusaw, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, the drop in applications does not signify a downward trend.

“According to the numbers, it was a drop, but I think of it as, ‘We didn’t go up,’” Ladusaw said.

Some hypothesize that the overall drop was a result of controversy surrounding the UCSC campus over the past year, including numerous protests, the death of Chancellor Denice Denton, and the debate over the Long Range Development Plan.

The majority of the decrease came from transfer students. There were 275 fewer transfer applications, a 5.2 percent drop from last year.

Transfer applications dropped slightly system-wide.

According to Michael McCawley, associate director for the Office of Admissions, enrolling the target of 925 transfer students is going to be more difficult this year.

“The number of applicants we have is certainly going to make it challenging to meet that [goal], because we had more [transfer] applicants last year and we had a reduced enrollment target. So yielding transfer students is going to be one of our top priorities,” he said.

But to some students, a relatively small campus community is one of the most appealing aspects of UCSC.

Kevin Von Der Porten, a student who transferred to UCSC this winter, said that he would not have applied to UCSC had the student population been much larger.

“If it lost [its] ‘foresty’ feel and the small classroom sizes, I would have looked for somewhere else to go,” Von Der Porten said.

But McCawley said he found it “hard to believe” that a large number of students would have felt the same way as Von Der Porten.

UC Davis, Merced, Riverside, San Diego, and Santa Barbara all reported decreases in their transfer applications compared to last year.

“If we have this conversation a year from now and the number goes up, then we’ll say ‘Oh, last year was a blip,’” McCawley said. “If we have a conversation a year from now and we’re flat or declining, then I think that there’s a trend and we have a problem. But at this point, it’s hard to tell a blip from a problem.”