Budget-Minded Students Have Pizza with the Presidents

Budget-Minded Students Have Pizza with the Presidents
President Ortiz answers a question during Pizza with the Presidents in the University Quad.
Students line up for free pizza and drinks.
ASI President Jeff Weintraub fields a question.

Money issues were the top concerns on students' minds during the spring quarter Pizza with the Presidents on April 30. While enjoying free pizza and drinks, students asked university President Michael Ortiz and ASI President Jeff Weintraub about the state budget situation, upcoming special election, fees for using university facilities and class availability.

Ortiz encouraged all students to research the six ballot measures going to California voters on May 19 because the results will have a major effect on Cal Poly Pomona and education in the state. “It'll be up to the citizens of California to voice their opinion on public education,” Ortiz said.

Because the university's financial team had recognized the possibility of budget reductions two years ago, the university has been preparing for scenarios of 5, 7 and 10 percent budget decreases. Planning has kept the university above water, Ortiz said. However, in the event of severe cuts, the university's top priority would be to avoid layoffs of faculty and staff and to continue providing a quality education, he said.

Two students talked about difficulties in registering for classes they need to graduate on time. One engineering student worried that a senior capstone class might be canceled due to low enrollment. Ortiz told him of a university policy that ensures certain classes are available for students who are a few units away from graduation; otherwise the student would be allowed to take a substitute class.

A graduate student in the College of Business commented that it can take up to three years to receive a master's degree because some classes aren't offered every quarter. Interim Dean Lynn Turner responded that the number of tenure-track faculty who teach MBA-level courses have been decreasing, a trend that's mirrored in other colleges and in the CSU system and that can be attributed to shrinking resources. Turner said the college is trying its best to manage enrollment and offer more courses with limited resources.

Members from two student organizations objected to the high cost of renting university facilities and fields, which they said can be prohibitively expensive. Ortiz noted that the facility rental fee includes the cost of hiring security, custodians and groundskeepers. He said the university is investigating ways to improve the process of renting facilities, perhaps lower fees for student groups and create a master calendar of events. Finally, he suggested that the students work with the vice president of Student Affairs to try to lower the cost.

During the one-hour event, University Police Chief Mike Guerin addressed a question about skateboarding on campus. Along with biking and riding scooters, skateboarding is illegal on campus. However, he said the university is considering updating its policy to allow skateboarding in certain areas and to create “dismount zones” in others. If the policy is approved and updated, signs will be posted denoting which areas allow skateboarding and biking on campus.

Students are encouraged to send questions to Ortiz by e-mailing president@cpp.edu. The next Pizza with the Presidents event will be in the fall.