State Budget Top Concern During Dinner With the Presidents

State Budget Top Concern During Dinner With the Presidents
President J. Michael Ortiz fields questions along with ASI President Jason Dyogi during Dinner with the Presidents on Feb. 24.
Nearly 250 students gathered in the Bronco Student Center to speak with the presidents and learn more about the state of the university.
Charles Holt, director of Parking & Transportation Services, addressed students' questions regarding parking at Dinner With the Presidents.

The state budget and its impact on Cal Poly Pomona was the main topic of interest for students during ?Dinner with the Presidents,? a special session geared toward evening students on Tuesday, Feb. 24. Students also asked about class availability, campus safety and parking. University President J. Michael Ortiz, Associated Students Inc. President Jason Dyogi and a number of campus leaders addressed those questions as well as others during the quarterly open forum.

Nearly 250 students gathered in the Bronco Student Center to speak with the presidents and learn more about the state of the university. Those in attendance enjoyed free food and drinks provided by the President?s Office and ASI. In all, about 75 pizzas, 400 sodas and 100 bottles of water were consumed during the question and answer session.

Ortiz opened by noting that the state?s budget crisis has already led to a 40 percent increase in student fees last year. Despite those increases, he reiterated how much value a California State University (CSU) education is considering the state support students receive to offset the cost of their education.

?I wanted to let you know that we have not in any way looked at a reduction of educational services to those of you that are enrolled at Cal Poly Pomona,? he said. ?Our first priority is to make sure you?re enrolled in the classes you need to complete your program. It means that the courses you need to graduate will be offered ? maybe not at the time that you would like it ? but we will make sure you have the courses.?

Dyogi added that the student government is doing its best to uphold its mission statement regardless of the budget situation, and urged students to take action.

?I encourage you to vote, get out there and defend our vital interests at the university,? he said.


Some students wondered about Governor Schwarzenegger?s proposed budget and its impact on the university, such as student fees and classes.

The Governor?s proposed budget is probably the best case scenario for the CSU considering the state?s fiscal problems, Ortiz said.

The proposed budget calls for an increase in fees for the UC, CSU and community college systems. For the CSU, it would mean increasing graduate fees by 40 percent, undergraduate fees by 10 percent and nonresident students would see a boost of 20 percent.

The proposed budget would also slash funding for the CSU by $242 million, with about $11 million coming from Cal Poly Pomona. That anticipated reduction, paired with budget cuts that have already taken place in the last two years, leaves the university in a challenging position to serve the same number of students with less financial support.

Because of the tight budget situation, the university has already taken steps to reduce new enrollment. In addition, class sizes may be increased. The university is also examining all nonacademic programs and evaluating the campus?s vital needs.

Two students inquired about how to effectively voice their opinions about fee increases and the budget situation in general.

Ortiz said fee increases by the CSU Board of Trustees are a consequence of the budget allocated to the CSU by the state, so students could express themselves to their local legislator.


Other questions included campus safety, parking and services for evening students.

With reports of sexual assaults in the student newspaper, one student asked what steps were taken to prevent rape.
New police Chief Michael Guerin responded that the university takes an active role in prevention and mitigation by offering classes, providing counselors and actively seeking input on safety improvements. He also noted the majority of sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance, rather than by a stranger in a dark alley, so different steps are taken to keep it from occurring.

Students can also help keep the campus safe, he said. Ifthey see suspicious activity, notice poor lighting on campus or an emergency phone that needs repair, they should notify campus police.

Another student wondered about plans for a parking structure.

Doug Freer, assistant vice president for student auxiliary services, stated that a six-story, 2,400-vehicle parking structure is currently halfway through the design phase. Construction should begin by this summer, with completion scheduled for fall 2005.

Evening students also questioned services that are available to them outside of regular business hours.

An accounting major wondered about tutoring in the evening. Dyogi mentioned that the Learning Resource Center is available for tutoring. The center is open until 6 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays.

A Spanish major worried about some required classes that are only available during the morning, which is a burden for people who hold down a full-time job while working toward a degree. Barbara Way, dean of the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences, said she will examine the class?s scheduling and see if it could be provided in the evening on occasion.

In addition to asking questions, some students silently held banners calling for the boycott of Taco Bell in support of a group of Florida tomato pickers. The pickers are appealing to Taco Bell?s corporate offices to take a role in their negotiations for pay and work conditions with a major produce distributor. Cal Poly Pomona's Taco Bell is owned and operated by the Cal Poly Pomona Foundation.

The next open forum, “Lunch with the Presidents,” will be held in the Spring Quarter.