Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors voted on May 6 to approve a resolution to establish the Pilot Cal Poly Safe Parking Program, which would allow students to sleep in their parked cars overnight on campus.
The vote to pass the resolution did not establish the pilot parking program at Cal Poly, but instead acted as a way to inform Cal Poly administration on the priorities of ASI and the student body.
“It’s not necessarily our [ASI Board of Directors] job to fully dictate or call out exactly what we want the program to look like,” ASI Board of Directors Chair Tess Loaire said. “It’s just a first step in saying this is something we recognize could be helpful and beneficial for students.”
This resolution was first proposed by a group of Cal Poly students who petitioned to allow overnight parking on campus for houseless students to sleep in their cars.
12% of Cal Poly students reported that they’ve experienced some sort of housing insecurity during their college career, according to a 2018 survey, Director Suha Hussain said.
During discussion of the resolution, Hussain said that this issue has only grown worse due to the circumstances of the COVID-19 housing insecurity, rent-increases and landlord’s inflexible lease agreements.
Hussain said that this proposal wouldn’t be a permanent solution to solve housing insecurity.
“It would just be a temporary way to assist students because currently Cal Poly is pretty limited in offering assistance to students who are facing housing insecurity,” Hussain said.
The assistance Cal Poly currently provides to students facing housing insecurity is limited to financial assistance and emergency beds provided by University Housing, which is only limited to short-term emergencies, according to Hussain.
Hussain said that a safe parking program like this would help students combat housing insecurity in the long-run. Other universities like UCLA and UC Santa Cruz have passed similar resolutions supporting safe parking programs. In addition, Santa Monica Community College has already been successful in establishing a safe overnight parking program, according to Hussain.
Passing this resolution will help propel the program to the next step of establishing a pilot parking program on Cal Poly’s campus to help ensure students’ basic needs are being met, Hussain said.
Cal Poly administration is responsible for establishing the parking program if they choose to do so.
“This resolution specifically does not have the details of that program spelled out within it,” Chair Loarie said. “It’s rather a call to action broadly and then if the administration is receptive to the idea, students would be included in how the program is actually built out.”
However, Hussain said that university administration has been in the loop about this resolution and have discussed the financial feasibility of the program. She said she has a meeting planned with the head of Cal Poly’s Administration and Finance to discuss the program.
“Communication with university administration has been great and they’ve been pretty receptive and open to the idea,” Hussain said.
Due to the ASI Board of Directors’ position as an advocacy board, it is not within their jurisdiction to establish a campus safe-parking program like this one.
However, Loarie said that the board passing this resolution is a great way to take the first steps in establishing the program.
“While we may not have direct control, outlining things you would like to see is completely within your jurisdiction as an advocacy board and passing resolutions that are supported by the entire student body are really great ways to start,” Loarie said.