Students in Rm. 05-225 arrived to class Monday, March 13, 2023 to find garbage cans catching water leakage following SLO's most recent storm. Credit: Carlin Cook | Courtesy Photo

On Monday morning, Mustang News received a photo of Architecture and Environmental Design Rm. 225 using several garbage cans to collect water.

The photo came from construction management senior Carlin Cook who said there have been trash bins collecting water from leaks in that building for years. 

Cook told Mustang News that there have been garbage cans in Rm. 05-225 for a while, but on Monday, “the trash cans took up probably a third of the classroom,” he said.

“It speaks to a pattern of Cal Poly prioritizing newer construction projects over maintaining existing buildings,” Cook said.

Lazier told Mustang News that this building had minor flooding and that campus saw “about a dozen reported leaks overall.”

“Facilities is actively addressing or has already addressed all of them,” Lazier wrote to Mustang News as of 11:20 a.m. “These kind of reports continue with additional rain this morning, but again, nothing that has resulted in a class needing to be canceled or moved.”

Despite flash flood warnings through 7 p.m. Friday and San Luis Obispo County’s Emergency Services Director issuing a local emergency, Cal Poly’s campus remained open.

“University leadership discussed the matter late Thursday and determined that the best course of action was to keep campus open at standard operation, while urging all campus community members to exercise caution,” university spokesperson Matt Lazier said.

One factor in this decision included resources necessary to keep essential operations open, according to Lazier.

“As a campus with a significant residential program, many employees would still need to report to work to support essential campus operations even in the event that classes and other programming deemed non-essential were to be closed/canceled,” Lazier said.

The January 9 storm was exacerbated by rainfalls in the days leading up to it, “which resulted in ground saturation and other flooding conditions,” and led Cal Poly to close its facilities in the beginning of the quarter, Lazier said. “Thus far, we have not seen the same sort of significant impacts that would necessitate the closure of campus.” 

Community members were concerned for students and faculty having to travel to and from campus. 

A Cal Poly employee who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, said the decision is “unbelievably irresponsible” and “a blatant disregard for safety.” 

“I don’t understand what made Cal Poly decide this storm wasn’t dangerous,” they said.

Twitter user @sophiefauchier said she was “appalled” by Cal Poly’s decision to remain open.

After the death of two San Luis Obispo County residents and five-year-old Kyle Doan going missing in the January storms, “it is imperative that safety comes first and people are NOT required to drive in these conditions,” @sophiefauchier said.

In a follow-up tweet, she expressed gratitude that the San Luis Obispo Unified School District has closed all school sites for the day due to the storm.