Presidents Discuss Issues With Students Over Pizza

Presidents Discuss Issues With Students Over Pizza
President Ortiz and ASI President Arno Keshishian address questions during “PM Pizza With The Presidents” on Feb. 27.
President Ortiz met afterward with Sociology and GEMS major Rocio Navarro (far right).

A standing-room only crowd filled Ursa Major in the Bronco Student Center for an hour-long discussion with university President Michael Ortiz and ASI President Arno Keshishian on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

“PM Pizza With The Presidents,” is held each winter quarter providing an opportunity for students to engage the top leaders with topics of their choice. Topics varied greatly touching on current political issues, student fees, curriculum, entertainment on campus and more.

Before the presidents addressed questions from the audience, Ortiz invited Mike Sylvester, Associate Vice President of Facilities Planning & Management, to give an update on the parking structure.

“I think you can see it's getting very close to completion,” Sylvester said. “We expect to know the completion date by the end of next week.”

Ortiz apologized for the delay, but said safety is the top priority.

“We want to make sure we don't take ownership of the building before it is ready,” Ortiz said. “We want to make sure it is safe for you.”

Gender, Ethnicity and Multicultural Studies major Chris Rodriguez asked the first question from the students. His comments and questions focused on AB540 and the DREAM Act, which is proposed federal legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state student fees and creates a path to citizenship.  

Ortiz responded by saying he supports the legislation.

Further in the evening Mechanical Engineering major David Cooke said he was concerned there are not enough technical courses and asked that the general education requirements for his major be revised.

Ortiz advised Cooke that faculty members are responsible for overseeing curriculum and that the changes to curriculum must be approved by the Academic Senate. Ortiz also invited College of Engineering Dean Ed Hohmann to address Cooke's concerns. The dean agreed to meet with Cooke at a later time to continue the discussion.

Some students said they felt unduly burdened by rising student fees, which have increased 76 percent at California State University campuses since 2002.

“76 percent sounds huge, until you assign a dollar amount,” Ortiz said, adding that fees have increased about $360 incrementally in five years.  

The conversation switched gears when Communications student Nicholas Villegas said that the Bronco Express drivers tend to take their breaks at the same time, halting shuttle service to students. He asked that the drivers taper their breaks to keep the flow of shuttles.

University Police Chief Michael Guerin acknowledged the problem and said that work is being done to bring in a relief bus to fill in the gaps in service. The police chief added that new Bronco Express route maps will be installed soon at shuttle stops.

Other topics included graduation checks, booking bands through ASI BEAT and financial aid.  

Students will have another open forum with the presidents in the spring quarter, which will be offered during the noontime university hour. All students are encouraged to attend.