This year, MSU set yet another record for undergraduate student enrollment with a grand total of 16,902 students. Part of the increase comes from a better freshmen retention rate, as fewer students have been dropping out or not returning for a second year. As wonderful as it has been to see MSU grow, there have been a few hiccups caused by the rapid influx of new learners. Everyone is aware of the critically endangered nature of parking on campus, and rental prices have soared across Bozeman and the surrounding communities. The real demon, however, is the ever-increasing size of classes and the impact that has had on professors’ abilities to instruct classes effectively.

Last Friday, the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering released a statement that they would be implementing some new policies this spring on a trial basis in an attempt to alleviate bloated class sizes. Entry level courses that were once capped at a manageable two or three hundred students per instructor have ballooned, causing school officials to question the feasibility of current policies. In response to this, the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering will be introducing their own take on “the gate,” a sort of limiting factor on how many students may continue in a given major past their freshman year. However, due to the high number of students in the engineering programs, traditional gates based on projects and evaluation of performance are simply not feasible. It is in response to this that the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering has decided to implement what they are calling the Highlander Gate.

Students wishing to progress on to their sophomore year in any of the various engineering majors will have to prove to their department just how far they are willing to go to study here at MSU. At the end of their second semester in the program, all students will be gathered into the newly constructed arena beneath Asbjornson Hall and presented with their choice of calipers, T-square, theodolite or other engineering tool. Once the marching band concludes a rendition of the MSU fight song, and President Cruzado rings the ceremonial gong, the students will commence fighting until only 100-150 remain. Students may, of course, choose to opt out of combat with the understanding that they will be unable to continue in the Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering and are encouraged to transfer to the less cut-throat Jake Jabs College of Business, Entrepreneurship and Pyramid Schemes.

Those students that survive will advance to sophomore standing and be allowed to enroll in upper-division classes. The College of Engineering expects post-gate retention rates to be high, as students will receive more individual attention from instructors and will have access to a greater number of resources than was previously possible. The College has yet to announce whether students with minors in engineering will be required to pass the Highlander Gate as well.