In Construction: Will the Interactive Learning Pavilion Aid the Enrollment Crisis?

Photo by Hally Zhou

Avery Gunderson

International News Beat Reporter

The first classrooms in construction since 1967, the Interactive Learning Pavillion (ILP) addresses a shared sentiment of the over-enrollment crisis at UCSB. 

Designed by LMN Architects of Seattle, the university articulates the project as a “state-of-the-art educational facility that will enable UCSB to meet its current and projected enrollment growth,” incorporating and paying respect to the natural Santa Barbara environment and earning the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification.

Originally a $78 million project with a planned 32 classrooms, the ILP now boasts a near $100 million price tag with only 23 classrooms. This addition will however provide a well overdue 2,000 seats to accommodate the growing student population.

Despite the housing crisis and difficulty of enrollment, it was discovered that there were about 8,000 fewer classroom seats available between the fall quarters of 2020 and 2021, while the number of admitted students enrolling in classes barely fluctuated

The UC Finance and Capital Strategies Committee proposal claims the ILP will “reduce student waitlists, decrease dependency on the use of borrowed space including assembly rooms for conducting classes, and improve access to classes students need to graduate in four years.” 

However, Maddie Manzagol, a third-year pursuing a B.S. in environmental studies at UCSB, points to a greater systemic issue regarding enrollment. 

“[Registration is] frustrating. I have a lot of course requirements outside of my major. When I try to sign up for classes, pass times restrict me from registering for classes necessary to graduate,” Manzagol shared with The Bottom Line.

Although adding additional spots to heavily impacted courses may alleviate stress felt by students and instructors alike, Manzagol points to the complexity of the situation, saying, “I don’t think it has to do with only physical space, rather the registration process as a whole, [because of] its restrictions and allowances that students are prevented or enabled by.”

While additional classroom seats lessen the strain placed on the most impacted classes, frequently boasting waitlists of over 100 students, the availability of courses throughout the school year and the ability to register during the first pass time seem to loom a larger issue in the enrollment struggles. As a reminder, pass times – the time frames in which students sign up for classes – have been changed to only allow students to add 10 units for the first pass time, two units less than the minimum requirement to be enrolled full time. 

Manzagol claims that “[e]ven if the class sizes are larger, there are specific classes only being offered during certain quarters. If someone doesn’t get into a class offered only during fall quarter, they need to wait a whole year, setting back all of their upper division classes. This is really stressful because I won’t be able to get into some classes, preventing me from finishing my degree in a timely manner.”

One issue the ILP does strongly improve upon is the limited study spaces at the library. Maddie references the challenge in finding spots to study, saying, “ Once midterms start there is nearly no space in the lib. I searched across every floor and struggled to finally find a spot on the first floor. There doesn’t seem to be enough tables, chairs, or outlets for students.” 

The new study center in the ILP aims to combat this by providing work spaces to students. She believes that “if the new learning center is a combination of classrooms and library study spots, that would be great.”

Thus, while the ILP is desperately needed to address overcrowding in and outside of courses, the registration restrictions and requirements present equal if not greater challenges for students, instructors, and faculty. 

To view an animated ILP plan, click here.