Video by Allison Royal
With the opening of Mustang Station (formally Ciao), anyone who is 21 and older can now purchase a beer or a glass of wine in a nontraditional restaurant setting. This option is a first in Cal Poly’s history. Changes to the campus alcohol policy have allowed the university to officially be considered a wet campus, which made this kind of establishment possible.
The policy change was considered nearly three years ago when public policy graduate student Jason Colombini was Associated Students, Inc (ASI) president. However, the first time he proposed the policy change was when he was on the Board of Directors two years prior.
“My sophomore year when I was on the board is when I brought it up for the first time,” Colombini said. “I was thinking ‘this will never change, this is the way it is, it’s always been this way, nothing is going to happen with it.’ There wasn’t enough of a push to do it.”
Before the proposal of making Cal Poly a wet campus, students were already talking about having alcohol served on campus as early as 2004, according to Colombini. That year, former ASI President Blake Bolon received approval for alcohol to be served at Krukow’s Klubhouse during baseball season. Sage Grill, which was located in the former Vista Grande dining hall, began serving wine and alcohol to the Cal Poly donation group, Stampede Club. This created a gray area for students, Colombini said.
“Depending on who you talk to,” Colombini said. “It was either Cal Poly is 100 percent dry campus with special exemptions, or we are somewhat of a dry campus, or people said we serve alcohol so we are a wet campus.”
To combat this debate during his term, Colombini and his cabinet conducted a survey called “Let Your Voice be Heard,” to see what the general campus climate was about several topics, alcohol being one of them.
The survey asked students, “do you support the addition of an alcohol venue on campus?” There was a total of 4,004 responses. From that number, 60.1 percent of respondents said they strongly support or support the idea and 22. 3 percent said they were neutral. With these numbers, Colombini presented an alcohol policy change proposal to administration.
“We met with President Armstrong and Vice President of Administration Finance at the time, Stan Nosek, and we set up a committee,” Colombini said. “It was perfect timing because the administration was also reviewing other campus policies. We had a discussion about it; a pretty active discussion about what this new alcohol policy would look like, what it should be and ultimately from that, campus became a wet campus. That is the policy now.”
This change of policy has received positive feedback from the campus community but some students are still unaware of the change. Art and design senior Simone Enderlin was surprised not too many people have been to Mustang Station yet.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” Enderlin said. “But so far no one actually knows about it. People were asking me ‘Has it opened yet?’ There just needs to be more time for the campus to be aware of it.”
But the demographics of those going to eat at Mustang Station has already began to change, according to civil engineering junior and Mustang Station employee Jacob Serpa. He had been working for Mustang Station when it was formerly called Ciao.
“It brings in a lot of upperclassmen compared to the last couple of years when it has been all freshman with Plu$ Dollars,” Serpa said. “Now it’s about half and half.”
Mustang Station is also seeing more faculty come into the restaurant. Statistics professor Andrew Schaffner believes Mustang Station can help promote faculty interaction amongst one another.
“I think it’s good for collegiality to be able to just come and talk about work or other things,” Schaffner said. “There is also a social component of having a beer as well.”
Statistics professor Ulric Lund echoed the same feeling as Schaffner, but highlighted the convenience of having alcohol served on campus to create more social situations among faculty.
“It is nice,” Lund said. “Usually we have to go off campus and it takes a lot more time for us to get together and have a beer.”
Changing Cal Poly from a dry campus to a wet campus was seen as a long process that would take years to pass. The quick opening of Mustang Station was a surprise to Colombini. But he’s happy he is able to see something he helped create go into action while still studying here at the university.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Colombini said. “Especially since I can be a graduate student here and get to experience having this here. I thought it wasn’t going to be here until at least 2022, not 2016.”
Colombini also wanted to stress that this change in policy was not just him. It was a team effort from within ASI, administration and the student body.
“I don’t say, ‘I did this,’” Colombini said. “We did this. We were able to make this happen; something that all students will be able to enjoy.”