Students Raise Important Issues at Pizza with the Presidents

Students Raise Important Issues at Pizza with the Presidents
President Michael Ortiz answers questions from students during Pizza with the Presidents.
ASI President Jeff Weintraub talks with a fellow student.
Students get free pizza and answers from university administrators.

President Michael Ortiz and ASI President Jeff Weintraub tackled pressing questions from students about a variety of issues at the Fall Quarter Pizza with the Presidents.

During the hour-long Q&A, students expressed their concerns about student fees, class sizes and parking as they ate free pizza in the University Quad on Oct. 7. A few hundred students and campus administrators attended the quarterly event.

“This is your opportunity to ask questions you need answered to make your experience at Cal Poly Pomona more rewarding,” Ortiz said.

In response to questions about student fees, Ortiz said that a CSU education is extremely affordable, especially when compared to other universities around the country. When compared with peer institutions, the cost to attend Cal Poly Pomona is nearly 75 percent less.

To keep class sizes more manageable, the university enrolled 1,200 fewer freshmen this fall than in the previous two years. While individual class sizes could be smaller still, Ortiz said, they are significantly smaller than compared to the UCs. Cal Poly Pomona students have the added benefit of learning directly from a professor instead of a teaching assistant.

Ortiz also pointed out that the state budget dictates funding for public higher education. This year, funding for the CSU system is at the same level as last year, even though costs are higher.

Several students said they have trouble finding parking. They asked whether the university will build a new parking structure and questioned whether faculty members can offer a grace period for late-arriving students due to parking and traffic issues.

Doug Freer, vice president for Student Affairs, said there are plenty of parking spaces available, especially in lots B, K and E. “The fastest way to get to campus is to park in one of those peripheral lots and use the Bronco Express shuttle, which comes every 10 minutes,” he said.

Ortiz said faculty members are unlikely to grant a grace period for late-arriving students because they want to maximize instruction time and because they face the same parking and traffic issues as students. Instead, he encouraged people to take advantage of the new Bronco Link shuttle service, which serves the Pomona North Metrolink station. As demand increases, the shuttle will expand its service times and the stations it serves.

While Cal Poly Pomona's master plan calls for another parking structure, Ortiz said the university is considering alternatives that would have less impact on the environment, such as better access to public transportation and more bike paths on campus.

One student wanted to know what happened to the trees that were removed or uprooted in the construction area of the new residential suites. Bruyn Bevans, director of Facilities Design & Construction, said some trees were removed to accommodate the construction, and many were replanted in different parts of the campus.

Added Doug Freer: “Every time we build a new building, we're always committed to planting more trees than we take down. You're going to see a rebirth of trees in that area when we're done with that project.”