During the past two weeks, the Empower Poly Coalition polled Cal Poly students via the MyCal Poly Portal to better understand the views of creating a student-led sustainability fund for projects on campus. On Friday, the poll closed with a total vote of 5,528 votes, which equals 30 percent of the student population. The breakdown was 43 percent in favor, and 56 percent opposed to the fund. As the author of this question, I must say that I was quite frustrated by the results, mainly in part of how sure I was that Cal Poly students wanted to develop a higher breadth of knowledge for sustainability throughout their studies as students of a polytechnic university.
All considered, the fight for sustainability at Cal Poly urges forward with more propulsion than ever before as sustainability grows in the topics in the classroom, senior projects that test real world strategies, and the change in lifestyle that students are making across campus towards living in a more responsible manner.
With such a strong movement underfoot, how then did the poll return such low numbers? One presumption several students have mentioned is that the question itself was phrased in such a way that automatically shunned voters from agreeing to the vote, due in large part to the first segment of the question. The poll read, “Would you be in favor of a five dollar increase in fees per quarter to support student-led sustainability projects on campus?” After speaking with a polling specialist, it was suggested that if the words “five dollar fee increase” and “student-led sustainability project” were changed, the results literally may have been flipped.
So the question that arose was whether or not the results that the MyCalPoly Poll revealed are an accurate assessment of Cal Poly students view on funding student-led sustainability projects. Another belief is that students who voted were in some regards uneducated as to the full implications of voting “yes” or voting “no” for a sustainability fund. Last year, the Empower Poly Coalition polled more than 500 students with a paper survey that had six questions that provided detailed information about what, where and how money would be spent in relation to the sustainability fund monies. The results were quite different, with more than 80 percent of students in favor of an increase in fees for a student-led sustainability fund.
With two fairly different results, the Empower Poly Coalition has determined that a third and final method for capturing votes is still needed in order to fully understand the desires of funding student projects on campus.
During the week of Feb. 8, the Empower Poly Coalition will be out on Dexter Lawn collecting our final method of data. We will have a large poster board with a question related to sustainability. Students are welcome to enter a tally mark either for or against the fee. These results will be collected and will then determine if Cal Poly students are willing to pay an increase, and at what amount.
Please come out to Dexter Lawn and make your pledge as we truly value the students opinions about sustainability at Cal Poly. The future of sustainability at Cal Poly is in your hands.
The future simply cannot wait.