“Living on campus helps students connect more with the Learn by Doing curriculum, their peers, and more deeply engage with the Cal Poly experience,” Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Humphrey said.
Cal Poly could become the first California State University to require incoming freshmen to live on campus for two years, but the transition won’t take place until more housing is available.
The new housing project being built in the parking lot across from Sierra Madre and Yosemite Residence Halls will accommodate first-year students, but Vice President of Student Affairs Keith Humphrey said the ultimate goal is to bring all sophomores on campus, as well.
“Students who live on campus perform better academically and are retained at Cal Poly better than those who live off campus,” Humphrey wrote in an email to Mustang News. “Every experience we offer students must help move them towards graduation and university housing is a key component towards graduation.”
The $200 million construction project will be completed in 2018, by which time most current students will have graduated.
While the university is considering requiring future students to spend their first two years on campus, no formal decisions have been made, Humphrey said. Cal Poly would need at least one more housing complex to accommodate everyone.
“Living on campus helps students connect more with the Learn by Doing curriculum, their peers, and more deeply engage with the Cal Poly experience,” Humphrey said.
The record-setting class of 2017 required the university to open up Poly Canyon Village (PCV) to freshmen for the first time, prompting older students to move off campus.
All sophomores were supposed to have guaranteed acceptance to PCV, as were upperclassmen who wanted to live there for a second or third year. But when the date for students to pick their buildings was repeatedly pushed back, people wondered if their reserved spots were in jeopardy, computer science junior Grant Pickett said.
While students were never formally asked to find off-campus housing, Pickett said he felt pressured to move to accommodate the incoming freshmen.
“We were going to register in May, and then it was June, and then it was late June,” he said. “They seemed to be wanting to push people off campus so it would be easier for them to have (freshmen) on campus.”
Housing director Preston Allen said 3,049 students applied for PCV housing last year, but only 2,772 made payments and 2,119 ended up on campus.
Allen waited to open building selection until he found out how many freshmen were coming to campus and how many sophomores would cancel their PCV registration, he said. Cal Poly made Gypsum a freshman-only apartment building after receiving the numbers.
“I wanted to make sure we had enough spaces for them to select from,” he said. “I wanted to make sure to wait as long as I possibly could so the ‘cancels’ will come in and students will have more to select from.”
Pickett and his roommates ultimately remained in PCV, but might not be back next year.
Additional freshman housing will allow sophomores to move back into PCV, and even more buildings could be in the works.
The housing selection committee decided against two other sites, one next to PCV and one just north of Alex G. Spanos Stadium along California Boulevard, in order to keep all freshmen together. But the areas are still on the table as future building sites.
“They were not rejected as housing sites, and in fact, may be locations that become housing in the future,” Humphrey said. “It was important to have this housing built in the same area as our current first-year student housing.”
With Humphrey’s idea of mandatory on-campus housing for freshmen and sophomores an unspecified number of years away, Allen said he didn’t know how many more developments would be necessary.
The more students who graduate, the more the university can admit, Allen said. Future admission statistics are tied to a number of unpredictable elements.
“As Cal Poly grows, we’ll be growing really smartly in designing and offering housing to students,” Allen said. “Second-year students really want apartments more than residence halls, so we’ll be looking to add more apartments to accommodate that.”
San Diego State University, Long Beach State University, San Jose State University and Cal Poly Pomona all require students to live on campus during their freshman year, California State University (CSU) spokesperson Liz Chapin said.
Though Cal Poly doesn’t technically require freshmen to live on campus, most live in residence halls, Cerro Vista or PCV. Less than 100 freshmen live with their families in nearby communities, Allen said.