Within the next 15 years, University Housing will change their policy to require all sophomore students to live on campus.
Support for a plan to require sophomore on-campus housing began in 2015 and was introduced in 2016 as a part of Cal Poly’s Strategic Plan, according to Mustang News archives. In 2016, the plan read that the requirement could be enforced as soon as 2023, however the revised Master Plan pushed back the project date.
In an Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) meeting Oct. 16, Executive Director of University Housing Jo Campbell presented an update on the university’s plan to expand housing on campus. Approximately 8,000 students currently live on campus , but this represents only 30 percent of the university’s goal. According to Campbell’s presentation, Cal Poly would like 65 percent of enrolled students housed on campus.
However, the proposal has been met with opposition. In 2015, the ASI Board of Directors voted to formally take a stance against the proposed mandatory sophomore housing policy.
In their resolution, they cited reasons why on campus housing is unappealing to students, including the absence of accessible amenities like grocery stores and restaurants on campus, the strained sense of community in Poly Canyon Village (PCV) and the lack of safety at night for students walking to nearby neighborhoods. They also reference the higher cost of on-campus housing compared to off-campus housing. The ASI Board of Directors still stands by the same resolution today.
Political science sophomore and ASI Board of Directors representative for the College of Liberal Arts Brian Kragh said he questions university funding and the financial repercussions for students if housing became mandatory for sophomores.
“My main concern with this policy is how, since Cal Poly students on average pay the highest tuition fees, I was just wondering if fees would rise because of the second-year housing policy,” Kragh said. “My concerns were basically confirmed at that meeting.”
Humphrey wrote that the university is seeking ways to lower the amount of housing for sophomore students.
“[The university does] not have a projected cost for new housing, as we anticipate seeking a private developer to build the project for Cal Poly,” Humphrey wrote. “This keeps the costs of construction off of the university’s debt capacity.”
However, under a public private partnership, Campbell’s presentation revealed the university anticipates an increased cost for students under this system.
“We have not put the money into our reserves that we should have over decades,” Campbell said. “We have $2 million, and we should have $100 million, in my opinion.”
While University Housing is preparing to implement mandatory second-year housing, specific plans to accommodate the increase in student enrollment are still being considered.
“The project is so early in the process, and the meetings are still in the deliberative stage, there is not anything concrete to offer,” Cal Poly Corporation Communications Specialist Aaron Lambert wrote in an email to Mustang News.
The proposed plan to expand housing includes specialty housing (one potential idea includes a Greek Village), more retail and outdoor amenities, and upgraded living facilities. The plan proposes replacing the parking lots near the baseball field,
During the ASI presentation, Campbell said yakʔitʸutʸu is “the new standard” for on-campus housing. She proposed a townhouse concept for the additional housing that is similar to yakʔitʸutʸu. Campbell said she also hopes more classrooms and multi-use rooms will be built in the area. However, plans for future housing have not been designed yet.
Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Humphrey wrote in an email to Mustang News that there will be accommodations for the increase in residential students.
“Additional dining facilities are planned for the new residence hall neighborhoods, as they will be on the north side of the campus core, near Poly Canyon Village and the baseball stadium,” Humphrey wrote. “Final amenities have not been decided.”
Humphrey added that “the total number of parking spaces will not change as a result of this project.”
Mandatory sophomore housing has been on the horizon for several years. President Armstrong’s Vision 2022 and the Cal Poly Master Plan for 2035 both detail interests in making the university a more residential community for undergraduates.
“Academic outcomes for students are stronger when students live on campus,” Humphrey wrote.
Humphrey also referenced the recent Cal Poly Experience (CPX) data which “demonstrates that some groups of students find the climate on campus more positive than off, and living in a positive climate helps student success.”
Humphrey added that 24/7 access to university staff and on-campus provisions, as well as access to academic support opportunities and student-centered events, will benefit students who live on campus.
Action toward the change in policy is predicted to begin in early 2020.